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TR: AJ's Summer of Fun-Featuring the TPR IntimidaTour


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Due to the potentially high number of parks I will be visiting over the next three months, I figured it would be a better idea to create one thread listing all of them instead of a bunch of separate threads. This thread will feature trip reports from any amusement parks, water parks, or other unique places I visit between the beginning of June and the end of August in 2010. For water parks, it will be mostly text-only, but anything else will have pictures and/or possibly a video as well. I will try to keep this updated as much as possible, but toward the end of August this may not be possible.

 

Here is my current schedule:

 

June 29th: Knott's Soak City Buena Park (see below)

July 5th: Boomers (no trip report)

July 8th: 1st Knott's Berry Farm visit (scroll down page)

July 19th: Raging Waters San Dimas (below Knott's)

July 22th: Orange County Fair (below Raging Waters)

July 26th: Six Flags Magic Mountain (page 2)

August 1st-5th: Pismo Beach, California (page 2 below SFMM)

August 5th & 6th: Sequoia National Park (no trip report)

August 11th: 2nd Knott's Berry Farm visit (no trip report)

August 15th-23rd: TPR IntimidaTour (page 2-3)

 

So, time to begin.

 

June 29th, 2010: Knott's Soak City Buena Park

 

Despite the cold temperatures and cloudy sky, I left my grandparent's house in Costa Mesa at around 9:30 A.M. to head to Knott's Soak City. Accompanying me were my brother and sister, along with my aunt and uncle, as well as my grandmother's niece and her grandson, who are currently visiting from Georgia. This was their first time to a waterpark, but the rest of us had been many times. In fact, I have been to Knott's Soak City between two and four times in the past five years.

 

We arrived at the parking lot slightly after ten to find no more than twenty cars parked over by the waterpark entrance. After getting out of the car, we all headed over to the gates, entered, then proceeded to the wavepool. Only the lounge chairs in the front row of one of the center sections had been claimed at this point, meaning there was almost nobody in the park. The wavepool had about twenty people in it, and I couldn't see very many people on any of the slide towers. We took some lounge chairs in the back row for convenience, applied sunscreen, then set off to enjoy the park.

 

Within an hour and a half, we had been on nearly every ride in the park, not waiting more than five minutes for anything. We then took a break to have lunch. After lunch, the sun came out and it warmed up, but the park never really got too crowded. I don't remember waiting more than ten minutes for any ride. We left at a little after 6:00 P.M. because everyone was getting tired. Overall, it was one of the best days I have ever had at this waterpark.

 

Ride Reviews:

 

Pacific Spin-This is one of those funnel slides and is my favorite attraction at Knott's Soak City. The ride is also better than the other funnel slides I've been on because it has a longer tube section before the drop into the funnel. You have the option of riding in either a two-person "Whirly Wheel" tube or a four-person "Cloverleaf" tube. I tried both and found that the four-person tube went higher on the sides of the funnel but the two-person tube spun in the tunnel, giving you no idea of how the tube would be oriented when it reached the drop. Also, on this ride, before you get in your tube your group steps onto a scale, lighting one of three lights on a stoplight-type pole. Green means that your group is below 400 pounds and you can use any tube. Yellow means your group is between 400 and 700 pounds and must use the four-person tube even if there are only two of you. Red means your group is above 700 pounds and must split up to ride. They had several two-person tubes on top in case groups needed to be split, as well as a couple four-person tubes. This is usually the most crowded ride in the park, and on weekends I have seen a forty-five minute wait just to get a tube (it can take up to twenty minutes after you get your tube to actually get on the ride).

 

Banzai Falls-This is a six-lane mat racer slide. It is a lot of fun to do as a group, but is kind of boring when you are by yourself. I ended up coming in second place behind my brother when we rode this as a group, and on the other rides it was either just me and him or I went by myself. I found that the best way to ride is to lift the front of the mat and lift your feet as well so you have very little of your body touching the slide.

 

Laguna Storm Watch Tower-This tower has three enclosed innertube slides that you can ride on a single or double tube. All three are very similar and feature a couple waterfalls mid-ride. I ended up riding all three of the flumes multiple times and in both single and double tubes. There really isn't any noticeable difference between different flumes, so it isn't worth waiting an extra ride to get a specific slide.

 

Old Man Falls-This tower has three very different body slides. One slide is just a straight drop that is enclosed at the top and opens up part way down, one is a series of three successively larger drops, and one is a completely enclosed spiraling slide. I rode all of these and found the straight drop to be the best. There are two lines for this attraction: one for the straight slides and one for the spiraling slide. The line for the spiraling slide moved very slowly so it is a good idea to do this one early.

 

Toyota Beach House-This is a water funhouse and is probably my least favorite attraction in the park because the water is very cold. It does seem to be very popular with elementary and middle-school aged kids, however, which I assume is more what it is geared toward. Go early, especially if you want to ride the slides on it.

 

Malibu Run-This is a set of four very different single-person innertube slides. Two of them are enclosed the whole way, giving a pitch black ride, one is enclosed for the first half and open for the second half, and the fourth is open the entire way down. I found the half-open, half-enclosed one to be best, followed by the fully enclosed ones and the fully open one was worst, but all four were better than the Laguna Storm Watch Tower slides. This ride is the highest capacity ride in the park, and even if the line is at the bottom of the tower it still only takes about ten minutes to get on.

 

Sunset River-This is a lazy river. I'm not a huge fan of lazy rivers, but I enjoy this one due to its length. Good for a break when the lines are at their longest.

 

I did not go in the wavepool because I do not like wavepools at all, however a few members of my group enjoyed it at various points during the day.

 

Overall, I think Knott's Soak City is a really good water park. It is the best of the three waterparks I visit regularly, and is my second favorite waterpark overall (behind Six Flags Hurricane Harbor). If you decide to visit Orange County and like waterparks, Knott's Soak City is definitely a place you should visit.

 

Ride Count:

 

Pacific Spin: 3 (2 on four-person tube, 1 on two-person tube)

Banzai Falls: 6

Laguna Storm Watch Tower: 9 (3 on each flume; 6 on single tube, 3 on double tube)

Old Man Falls: 4 (1 on straight drop, 2 on triple drop, 1 on spiral)

Toyota Beach House: one ride down each slide

Malibu Run: 9 (2 on each enclosed flume, 3 on half enclosed/half open flume, 2 on fully open flume)

Sunset River: 3 non-consecutive laps

 

Total: 36 rides in 8 hours (4.5 rides per hour)

 

There are no pictures because I do not bring my camera to waterparks, but I will have pictures of my Knott's Berry Farm visit next week, so check back for those.

Edited by rcdude
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Time to update this thread.

 

July 8th, 2010: Knott's Berry Farm

 

Knott's Berry Farm is the park I tend to visit most frequently. This was my third visit of the year, and I will be going two-four more times before the end of 2010. Unlike some people, I do not think Knott's is a bad amusement park, but it is no longer unique enough to go out of your way for. I usually tell people to visit if they've got free time when they're in Southern California, but otherwise don't bother with it. On this visit, we had three visitors in our group, one of which had never been to the park before and the other two who hadn't been for over ten years.

 

We got to the park a little before opening to find it was a cloudy and fairly empty day. However, after the first hour we began running into hordes of day-camp people. This made all the ride lines longer than usual, as well as caused quite a bit of general annoyance (more on that later).

 

Our group remained together until after lunch, at which point we all split up. We met up again for dinner at 6 at the chicken dinner restaurant. Fortunately, it was only about a forty five minute wait. After a really good dinner, most of the group headed home while my brother, sister, and I spent the last two hours attempting to get to all the rides we missed earlier due to lines. We didn't get them all, but since we all have passes that's not a big deal.

 

Overall, it was just an okay day at the park. I usually don't visit parks during the summer due to them usually just being okay days, but in this case it was worth it because I was visiting with relatives I rarely get to see.

 

Ride Reviews:

 

GhostRider-This was the first ride of the day, so there wasn't much of a wait. I rode in the front row of the second car and had a really good ride. If you want the smoothest ride, go on the ride in the front row of one of the first three cars in the first hour the park is open. I do this every time and still think this ride is the second best wooden coaster I've been on. As long as I avoid the last two cars, I really don't have a problem with roughness.

 

Pony Express-This is my second least favorite coaster at the park (after Boomerang) because it is short and uncomfortable. However, when the line is short or I have other people in my group that want to ride it I'll still take the time to ride.

 

Log Ride-This is a classic Knott's attraction that I try to ride every time I visit the park. It is my second favorite log flume (after Splash Mountain) and is something I definitely recommend riding when visiting the park. One of the few rides I did twice, although it did have a little bit of a wait.

 

Xcelerator-The best ride at the park, as well as the best launched coaster in California. It is currently at #4 on my top ten coaster list. Unfortunately, the ride now only has one train and it had a bit of a line so we only got to ride twice.

 

Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars-Slow bumper cars, but unfortunately they are still the best ones I've been on. Not worth it if you can't get on the next cycle.

 

Mystery Lodge-This is my least favorite animatronic show, but is still something I tend to see once a year or so. I still haven't figured out how they do all the effects, but I'm guessing Pepper's ghost is probably the answer for most of them.

 

Bigfoot Rapids-On average, this is one of the driest river rapids rides I've been on. It is still a fun ride, but isn't worth that long of a wait.

 

Perilous Plunge-I like this ride, but it isn't quite as good as a standard shoot-the-chute ride due to the restraints. Still worth riding, especially when it is hot out.

 

Supreme Scream-I used to like this ride, but now I find it a bit tame. When there isn't much of a wait, I still ride it, but Tower of Terror and any Intamin tower are better than it.

 

Montezooma's Revenge-The most underrated coaster at Knott's. This ride is a classic and is probably one of the best shuttle coasters in operation today. Must ride unless the line is extremely long.

 

Knott's Wild West Stunt Show-An ultra cheesy stunt show. My least favorite live show at any park, so I rarely watch it. Funny once, but not worth seeing again.

 

Calico Mine Ride-Another classic Knott's ride that I enjoy. While it isn't the best dark ride around, this is above-average quality for a Cedar Fair park theming-wise.

 

Stagecoach-The only reason I ride this is because it is a one of a kind attraction. However, it isn't really worth the line it usually gets.

 

Jaguar-A decent family coaster that rarely has much of a line. I could skip this one, but if I'm in Fiesta Village I'll give it a whirl if I can get on the next train.

 

Silver Bullet-Unfortunately, this ride was only running one train, causing it to have a massive line all day. We ended up riding just before closing and still waited forty-five minutes. Silver Bullet is a fun ride, but isn't something spectacular. This would be a good first inverted coaster for anyone, especially someone who isn't a roller coaster enthusiast, and is a good fit for the park. I think of it almost as a less-intense version of Cedar Point's Raptor.

 

For lunch, we ate at Johnny Rockets, which is probably the best place in the park to eat. I also convinced everyone to try Knott's special chocolate-bacon funnel cakes, which everyone enjoyed (although a few of us got sick afterward).

 

My complaints about unsupervised day-camp groups

 

Throughout the day, there were a number of day-camp groups we ran into. These groups, for the most part, are generally annoying. They are typically impolite, obnoxious, rude, and are more likely to line-jump than everyday guests. However, when supervised they are not much of a problem. Unsupervised, however, I saw three separate incidents that should have resulted in ejection from the park.

 

The first was at Bigfoot Rapids. We ended up getting in line two boats ahead of a group of day-camp people. There were about fifteen of them with one chaperone, so not all of them could be supervised during the ride. As we were leaving, I heard the operator in the control tower tell the deck operator to give them a talk about standing on rides because they were standing up for a good portion of the ride. I'm surprised people don't have more common sense than this, or at least that the chaperones don't tell the kids how to behave. I don't know what happened to them, but I hope they got in trouble with their counselor.

 

The second incident was at Perilous Plunge. Here, the group was at the entrance deciding who was going to ride. About half the people who were riding ran down the line, than I and a couple other people entered, followed by the rest of the group and the chaperone. When I got to the point where the line was backed up to, the day-camp kids were twenty-thirty people ahead of me. It looked like they had line-jumped up to that point and were trying to keep going, but were being blocked by somebody ahead of them. Fortunately, their chaperone managed to get them to come back and made them sit out the ride.

 

The third was one I observed while in line for Montezooma's Revenge. I saw a group of day-campers on Charlie Brown's Speedway, a whip-type ride. When the ride stopped, they all got off. However, one of them found out that pushing the cars will cause them to move. All twenty or so of them then ran back to the ride and began pushing it Nascar style. The operator didn't notice since they were busy with the gate until the ride made a weird noise. The operator then had to shout and pretty much drive the kids out to get them to stop. A few wouldn't stop period and the chaperone had to run in and drag them out. I don't know if it was related or not, but when I walked through the area later that day there was a sign out front of that ride stating that it was temporary closed.

 

In my personal opinion, if you have a group of elementary-school aged kids at an amusement park, you need at least one chaperone for each ten kids, and you need chaperones that will constantly monitor them. I don't have a problem with other people enjoying the park, but when they can't obey simple rules (written or implied) they need to be constantly watched or just not come.

 

End rant

 

Ride Count:

 

GhostRider: 1 (car two front row)

Pony Express: 1 (back car)

Log Ride: 2

Xcelerator: 2 (both in back car)

Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars: 1

Bigfoot Rapids: 1

Perilous Plunge: 1 (back row)

Supreme Scream: 1 (blue tower)

Montezooma's Revenge: 1 (car three back row)

Calico Mine Ride: 1

Stagecoach: 1

Jaguar: 1 (car nine)

Silver Bullet: 1 (front car)

 

Total: 15 rides + 2 shows in 12 hours (1.42 attractions per hour)

 

Anyway, here are a few pictures I took during the day. I'm not a huge picture person at the parks around here because they are so frequently visited by me and others, but I'll post the ones I took.

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First ride of the day!

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I don't think this ride is that bad. Sure, it's a bit rough, but it is still an awesome ride.

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From here, the park doesn't look that crowded.

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Fortunately, we got back here when the ride only had a two train wait. Later in the day, the line was out the door.

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Oh no, scary day-camp people have arrived.

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This is where all rule-breakers should be forced to spend their day.

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I am really glad this ride is running well again. I rode it a couple months ago, but nobody else in my group had been on it in over two years.

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I still think this looks like one of the most unstable roller coasters ever built, but it is completely safe.

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This was closed all day so the cabin never moved. I wonder why they store it at the top instead of the bottom.

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From this angle, Supreme Scream looks a lot taller than it actually is.

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This is the coolest picture of the ride I have. I always enjoy standing in the middle of these towers.

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This is the only ride in the entire park that I haven't been on yet. Why?

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Spinning rides such as a chairswing or a tea cup ride don't bother me because all the axes of rotation are parallel.

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However, on a ride like Wipeout, or even a standard tilt-a-whirl, the axes are skewed which makes me really sick. At least, that is my theory and seems to be supported in my experience.

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Wipeout is still the best ride I've found for observing the ride mechanics.

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This is one of the wettest water rides in existence. It's hard to go down a drop like that and not end up completely soaked.

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Boomerang is my least favorite coaster at the park. However, I still ride it if the line is short enough that I can get on the next train. Fortunately, this is as close to the ride as I got during the day.

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Pay no attention to the lift of Silver Bullet. Instead, look at the sky. This is what the weather was like for a good portion of the day.

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And I will end with a picture of the second most intense helix I have experienced.

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I committed to keeping this updated for the people who are interested so it's time to add another report.

 

July 19th, 2010: Raging Waters San Dimas

 

Raging Waters is generally thought of as the best water park in California. Although it may be the largest, I do not feel it is the best. I'll list my reasons later, but for now I will say that it is my least favorite stand-alone Southern California waterpark but is still not my least favorite waterpark period. However, due to the admission pricing and distance from where I live I generally only visit on years where they get a new attraction.

 

We got to the park ten minutes before opening to find a crowd of around two hundred people waiting to get it. Fortunately, once they opened the gates we were inside within ten minutes. We bypassed the locker line and dumped all our stuff on lounge chairs, applied sunscreen, then headed over to the far side of the park. Unfortunately, unknown to us, the far side didn't open until 10:30, so we had a little bit of a wait.

 

Once the far side opened, we headed to Thunder Rapids and were on the third raft of the day. We then did Raging Racer, Dark Hole, Dr. Von Dark's Tunnel of Terror, and Dragon's Den with minimal waits (less than fifteen minutes each). At this point, we had knocked out three of the four most popular rides in the park. We then rode Drop Out before stopping for lunch.

 

After lunch, we took our time getting to the other rides in the park. Due to busloads of people and the nice weather, the park was very crowded, and some lines approached an hour wait. However, by 6 P.M. we had managed to do everything. After a few re-rides, we called it a day and left shortly before closing at 7 P.M.

 

Ride Reviews:

 

Thunder Rapids-This is not my favorite family raft ride, but is the better of the two at Raging Waters. The ride consists of a series of turns which send the rafts high up on the walls of the slide. There is then a small drop at the end of the ride. This is the single most crowded ride in the park, often reaching an hour wait or more, but since we went here first we waited only five minutes (once the ride opened).

 

Raging Racer-This is a eight lane head-first mat slide. You race straight down the hill over four dips. It is a fun ride, and is the best mat-racer slide I've been on. However, it is still just a mat racer and isn't worth more than a twenty minute wait. Fortunately, we only waited however long it took to climb the hill (probably about two minutes).

 

Dark Hole-This attraction is a pair of partially enclosed two-person tube slides. The ride starts out with a couple turns in the open before it enters the dark tube. It then has twists and turns, as well as a helix, in total darkness. The ride emerges from the tube at the top of a twenty foot drop under a bridge, which leads to the pool below. This is my least favorite of the three tube slides at Raging Waters, but it isn't a bad ride. We waited less than ten minutes since we went early, but the line for this can get really long later in the day. Fortunately, this and Raging Racer are the highest capacity attractions in the park.

 

Dr. Von Dark's Tunnel of Terror-This is the new for 2010 ride at the park. Proslide calls the attraction a Tantrum Twist, which is basically a double helix slide with a small funnel in the middle. The ride is in complete darkness and riders use two-person Whirly Wheel tubes. I believe this attraction is supposed to have special effects inside the funnel, but they didn't appear to be working when we were there. I enjoyed this ride, but I do not think it is the best ride at Raging Waters. However, it is one of the few rides I rode twice despite the long line.

 

Dragon's Den-This is a bowl slide, but instead of riding on your back you ride on a two-person tube. I much prefer this to the body bowl slides because it is a more comfortable ride. This is my favorite attraction at Raging Waters, although it had too long of a wait to ride more than once. I've found that the closer you are to the maximum weight limit of 400 pounds the better the ride is because you go down the chute faster and have more speed entering the bowl. For whatever reason, my brother and sister think this ride is a waste of time if there is more than a ten minute wait.

 

Drop Out-This is the most extreme slide I have been on. It is just a single seven-story drop at an angle that looks just as steep as Perilous Plunge at Knott's. This is my favorite body slide at the park, but since I am not much of a fan of body slides that doesn't mean too much. The fun thing about is ride is it's location. Since the ride is built on top of a hill, the tower isn't that tall, and you can't see how large the drop actually is until you are at the top. This scares a lot of first timers away, which is a good thing because this (along with Dragon's Den) is one of the lowest capacity rides in the park.

 

High Extreme-This is the tallest head-first mat slide in the world. It consists of two mirror-image flumes departing from a ten-story tall tower and working their way back to ground level. There are two large drops, one midride and one at the end, as well as a lot of twists and turns. I have found this is a lot of fun to race, as if you are good at steering the mat you can get going really fast down this ride. I enjoy this ride, but it isn't one of my favorites due to the amount of stairs you have to climb to get to the top.

 

Amazon Adventure-This is a lazy river. Unlike other parks, there are no free tubes floating in the river. However, it is probably my favorite lazy river due to geysers, waterfalls, and fountains along the course of the ride. Fun for a lap or two, but after that it is too tiring.

 

Flowrider-This is a stationary wave that you can bodyboard on. The park gives you one minute of time to show off your tricks or just attempt to ride the wave. It is fun, but often has a long line. Few people manage to last a minute on this without at least one wipeout, but I managed to get 45 seconds. Unfortunately, I spent the rest of my time trying to find my board, and couldn't find it until they shut the water off. Oh well, it was still a fun ride.

 

Splash Island Adventure-This is the tipping bucket house, and is the largest of the four kids areas at the park. It is also the only one where adults are allowed to participate without children under 48 inches. This is much better than the Soak City bucket house, but is only fun for about twenty minutes. I enjoy these things because there are all kinds of fun things to play with, as well as little mini-slides that are often relatively zippy.

 

Lily Pad Walk-I didn't do this because I can never make it more than three pads, but it is a series of ten floating pads people try to cross while holding onto a rope without falling in. My brother made it across but my sister didn't.

 

Bermuda Triangle-Three enclosed body slides. The two outer slides are a single helix and the middle is a straight drop. I rode all three flumes throughout the day and I prefer the spirals to the drop.

 

Neptune's Fury-This is similar to Thunder Rapids, but is dark due to being in an enclosed tube. I'm not a huge fan of this ride because it is tamer than Thunder Rapids. It was also our longest line of the day at 45 minutes.

 

Vortex-A pair of mirror-image triple helix dark enclosed body slides. This is my least favorite ride in the park because it is a really simple layout and often has a wait of a half-hour or more. Fun to ride once, but otherwise not worth your time, especially since none of the original effects work anymore. I actually rode twice only because there was no wait when I walked by near the end of the day.

 

Speed Slides-These are the oldest slides in the park. They begin with a couple turns, then there is a series of two or three quick dips that give riders a lot of airtime. Fun ride, but not one you can do over and over without an injury potential.

 

Ride Count:

 

Thunder Rapids: 1

Raging Racer: 1

Dark Hole: 1 (left flume)

Dr. Von Dark's Tunnel of Terror: 2

Dragon's Den: 1

Drop Out: 1 (left flume)

High Extreme: 1 (right flume)

Amazon Adventure: 1

Flowrider: 1

Splash Island Adventure: 2 (once on each slide)

Bermuda Triangle: 3 (once on each flume)

Neptune's Fury: 1

Vortex: 2 (once on each flume)

Speed Slides: 1 (left flume)

 

Total: 19 rides in 9 hours (2.11 rides per hour)

 

Overall, I had a decent day at Raging Waters. It wasn't the best day I've ever had there, but it wasn't bad and I actually had time to do pretty much everything. Out of my four visits to the park in the past ten years, I would probably rank this one second.

 

Anyway, here are my reasons why Raging Waters isn't the best waterpark in California (at least in my opinion):

 

1. Crowds-I know this isn't really the park's fault, but this is the only waterpark I've been to (other than Hurricane Harbor) where it is nearly impossible to do everything in one day due to lines. I don't mind waiting in a forty-five minute line for a ride that is really popular and is the best ride in the park, but when rides just aren't high enough capacity to deal with the crowds it just makes lines longer. This goes along with #2 and #3.

 

2. Low Capacity Attractions-Too many of the rides at Raging Waters are low capacity attrations. When they can only send one or two tubes down per minute, that makes the line very long. At other parks, I have seen rides that can send as many as ten or more tubes down in a single minute. I do not believe a single attracton at Raging Waters has a capacity greater than 400 people per hour. At other water parks, I have seen rides with a capacity of more than twice that number.

 

3. Subpar Rides-Many of the attractons at Raging Waters just aren't that great. Of the rides at the park that also have similar rides elsewhere, only the Raging Racer is my favorite of its type. Bermuda Triangle is also pretty high compared to enclosed body slides, but the rest of the rides at the park really aren't all that great. Very few of them deserve the lines the get.

 

4. Line Jumpers-Raging Waters is probably the worst park I have ever been to for line jumping. I hate to stereotype, but I think it may be due to the groups of people that visit the park. More than once I saw one or two people get joined by six to eight others in line for the body slides, and on many of the tube slides one person would be joined by their riding parter near the top. The park does a poor job of enforcing this, but I wish they would. It just makes the already long lines even longer.

 

5. Parking-To put it bluntly, parking at Raging Waters sucks. First of all, it costs $15 to park. Now, this isn't unheard of, but when you look at the fact that you are parking in a gravel lot it is ridiculous. In reality, the lot is partially paved, but the actual spaces are all gravel. It is only the aisles between spaces that are paved. Also, if you don't get there early you have to park in a remote lot and take a tram to the entrance. I'm guessing that if this park wasn't over a mile from any populated area people wouldn't pay the parking fee and would just walk over from a shopping center.

 

6. And finally, Food Lines-On this visit, we ate early to avoid these. However, on previous visits it has taken an hour and a half to get food. Why? Well, there are only two or three food places in the entire park, and neither of them have more than four windows. In addition, it seems like they take about five minutes per person when serving food. The good thing is that it is slightly better than most other amusement park food, but it still takes way too long.

 

Overall, Raging Waters isn't great, but it isn't bad either. If you've never been, and your in the area, and you enjoy water parks, I would definitely recommend trying it out. Just don't go expecting it to be the best water park you've ever visited and you'll have a good day.

 

Anyway, that's about it. Once again, no pictures because it's a waterpark. My next update from the Orange County Fair, however, will have both pictures and a video. It should be up sometime next week.

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July 22nd, 2010: Orange County Fair

 

The Orange County Fair is an event that occurs every summer in Costa Mesa, California. It runs from mid-July until mid-August. The carnival section of the fair, where I usually end up spending a good portion of the day when I go, is operated by Ray Cammack Shows, an Arizona-based carnival operator. They also operate the Antelope Valley Fair and Los Angeles County Fair in California, as well as a couple fairs (two each state) in Arizona and Texas. All these fairs use the same ride line-up, which varies from year to year, although not all rides are present at every fair. The Orange County Fair, however, uses at least three-quarters of RCS's ride selection.

 

Normally I am not much of a carnival person, but since my grandparents live in Costa Mesa I have been going to this fair every year for as long as I can remember. Depending on the year, they run various promotions both for fair admission and for carnival rides. This year, we went on an unlimited ride wristband day. For $25 we got unlimited rides for eight hours, plus $1 for all games. There was no admission promotion on the day we went, but my grandparents managed to get two free tickets due to a special their Toyota dealership had going on.

 

We got to the fair about twenty minutes before opening at noon. While waiting to get in, we all applied sunscreen as there is not much shade at the fair. Once we were let in, we went to the ride section and purchased four unlimited ride wristbands: one for myself, one for my brother, one for my sister, and one for my sister's friend. We spent a few hours in the carnival, then left to explore other parts of the fair and returned to the carnival after dinner.

 

I will review all of the rides below, but first I'm going to talk about the non-ride attractions at the fair. The Orange County Fair is split up into several different areas. The first is the livestock area, which is where they have all the animal displays and shows. This includes livestock competitions, rodeo-type contests, and Alaskan Pig Races. This year we didn't really spend much time here, but in previous years I've spent a portion of the day in this area.

 

The second area is the exhibit area. This is where they have all the displays of various things entered into one of the numerous competitions. They also have some unique stores here selling handmade products.

 

The third area is the Centennial Farms, which is a year-round farm that grows produce and raises animals. It is used as an educational experience for many elementary schools in the area, and is open to touring during the fair. I rarely ever go over here anymore.

 

The fourth area is the vendor section, which consists of a bunch of tents where people try to sell you stuff. I don't go here often at all because I don't spend a lot of money on random crap.

 

The fifth area is the Pacific Amphitheatre, which is where concerts are held on a nightly basis. I've never seen a concert here, but I sometimes hear them when I stay at the fair until late at night.

 

Ride Reviews:

 

Crazy Coaster-This is a Zamperla spinning mouse, but is smaller than the standard version. It also has almost no spin to it. On the ride our car made about seven complete revolutions during the whole ride, with half of those being after it hit the brakes at the end. I'm not a huge fan of this ride but still ride it at least once when I visit.

 

Creep Show-The older, but better, of the two cheesy dark rides at the fair because it is two levels. The ride begins with a spiral lift, then moves along the upper level balcony before descending back to the lower level for the main indoor portion of the ride. There are then four or five scare effects before the cars descend a small curving ramp back to the unload area. Fun, but not worth much of a wait.

 

Dodgem-Standard bumper cars attraction. These cars are European-style and are difficult to drive, but they go faster than most other bumper car rides I've been on and are worth a ride if the line isn't that long.

 

Euroslide-The largest sack slide I have seen anywhere. This attraction is at least sixty feet tall and features seven dips on the way down. Unfortunately, each year it gets a little slower due to the age of the mats they use, but it is still a fun ride.

 

G-Force-This is the same type of ride as La Revolucion at Knott's, but has a much better ride cycle. Unfortunately, the ride is still a little on the short side, but at least the line is usually short as well.

 

Haunted Mansion-The other cheesy dark ride at the fair. This one is very boring and just consists of a zig-zag ride in the dark past about eight to ten props that often don't work fully. Disneyland's Haunted Mansion is my favorite dark ride, but this may very well be my least favorite. I only ride to count how many effects are actually working and because my wristband is unlimited.

 

Hi-Miler-This has been present at the fair forever but it is probably for a good reason. From my experience, this is the best portable coaster currently operating in California, if not the United States. The ride gives insane stand-up airtime and extreme lateral g-force stronger than almost all wild mouse coasters. It also feels like it is going to fall apart at any moment. My favorite coaster at the Orange County Fair by far.

 

Hydro Slide-A portable log-flume attraction. This ride features two drops with the larger one being about thirty feet. It is fun, and gets you relatively wet, but isn't anything more than lift, turn, drop, repeat.

 

La Grande Wheel-The world's largest travelling observation wheel. This ride gives a really good view of Costa Mesa and allows for great photo-taking opportunities. (Speaking of on-ride photos at the fair, only a few rides had signs saying not to bring cameras on-board. The rest didn't say anything and I saw a number of people taking pictures from some of them.)

 

Mardi Gras-A glass house attraction where you find your way through a maze filled with glass panes and mirrors. It isn't all that challenging and is fun to do once. If you can't make it through in two minutes, you probably have no sense of direction as the path just zig-zags through the maze. I wish they would actually replace all the glass with mirrors to make it much more difficult to find the right way through, although that could probably cause problems.

 

Mega Drop-A 115 foot drop tower that is my third favorite ride at the fair. Unlike most drop towers, this one actually uses compressed air to launch you downward, causing insane airtime. It also sits at the top of the tower for a variable amount of time, but it is often very long for a drop tower (usually 15-20 seconds, but sometimes as short as eight and other times as long as 40).

 

Moscow Circus-The largest fun-house at the fair, this attraction features four stories of entertainment filled with bouncing floors, spinning platforms, sliding stairs and floors, tilting floors, conveyor belts, vibrators, punching bags, rollers, and the largest spiral slide I have ever seen. Definitely the must-do fun house at the fair.

 

Re-Mix-I didn't actually ride this ride because it would probably make me sick, but I watched everyone else do it. The ride is basically an inverted sideways scrambler where the arms tilt up to the side as it goes around and there is no floor so your feet hang out. My brother and sister really like this ride.

 

Silly Seas-This year's new fun house. It is a two story fun house that features sliding stairs and floors, spinning platforms, rollers, bungees, and a rotating barrel. Short but fun.

 

Skyflyer-My favorite ride at the fair. This is essentially a swing ride on a 100 ft. tower. Not only does it go up and rotate, but it also slides up and down the tower during the ride cycle. Very fun, and one of the few rides I try to do more than once.

 

Skyride-A Lift Engineering triple chairlift very similar to one you would find at a ski area. The 9-minute ride connects the two sides of the fair together and is great for taking pictures of the fair from sixty feet up. Just be very careful not to drop your camera.

 

Speed-The second best ride at the fair. This attraction consists of a gigantic arm with seats on each end. The seats are free to rotate as the arm rotates. Unfortunately, due to only eight seats it is a very low capacity attraction, but is well worth the wait.

 

Starship 2000-Standard gravitron ride where you get stuck to the wall due to centrifugal force. These are always fun as long as you don't try anything dangerous.

 

Surf Shack-The worst of the three fun houses at the fair. It is very similar to the new Silly Seas, but is old and outdated. A number of the effects no longer work, making this barely worth the time it takes to walk through.

 

Tango-I'll just say it right now...this is the most messed up flat ride I have ever been on. The ride spins on three axes at once seventy feet up in the air, and has a ride cycle that lasts for well over two and a half minutes. In addition, it is a stand up flat ride with no floor, so it is very uncomfortable for guys. I came off the ride very dizzy, but surprisingly didn't feel sick. According to the sign, this ride does movements no other ride can perform, so I would recommend riding at least once just for the insane experience.

 

Zipper-If you don't know what a zipper is, you've obviously never been to a carnival. I've gotten sick on this ride in the past so I don't ride it anymore, but my brother and sister really like it. These are very standard carnival attractions, and if you haven't been on one yet it is something you really should try.

 

Disk'O-Standard Zamperla Disk'O attraction. I really like these things, but this is one of the smaller models so it isn't as great. It's still worth riding, but is just not as thrilling as the Mega Disk'O or the Disk'O Coaster.

 

In addition to the rides, we also saw Al's Brain, a 3-D movie about the brain hosted by "Weird Al" Yankovic. It is a pretty creative movie and is worth seeing, but it isn't a must-see attraction.

 

Well, that's about it for the text section. Here is a video I shot while at the fair. This was all shot using the same camera I use for still photography so it isn't HD quality or anything like that, but it is much better than an average cell-phone camera. I also apologize for the occasional shakyness (I don't have the steadiest hand so you will never see a POV of anything other than a transportation ride from me).

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=Orange_County_Fair_2010_2le7[/coastertube]

 

Here are pictures as well. They aren't necessarily in the order I did the rides, but they do cover pretty much everything I did.

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Welcome to OC Fair 2010. This is a free pin you can get by going to one of the information booths.

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Here is a map of the fair. I wonder where we should go first?

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First stop...the carnival.

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You have one of these right at the entrance to the carnival. I don't think I've ever actually been to a fair that didn't have one.

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The first of the three adult coasters, and the only one I didn't ride (don't worry, I've been on it before).

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As you continue down to the far end of the midway you eventually spy this ride.

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It's the Crazy Coaster. Do not confuse this ride with the Crazy Mouse, which I have not been on before but have heard is superior in every possible way.

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The third (and best) adult coaster at the fair. This thing has probably been coming to the fair for longer than I have.

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Enough with the coasters for now, lets check out some of the other random stuff in the carnival. We begin with this totally random game where you race bananas.

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Creep Show, the only travelling two-story dark ride in California (to my knowledge).

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Standard Zamperla Disk'O. I like the larger models better.

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The European bumper cars.

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I have no clue why the ride sign says euroslide.com instead of simply Euroslide.

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I remember when this ride was new and it was a big deal. Now, it seems like very few people ride it.

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This ride sucks. Not only is it very dizzying, but it also has an uncomfortable plastic headrest you have to keep your head firmly pressed against in order to keep it from banging into the shoulder harness.

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As we were walking around, we randomly saw this sign. Fastpass? At a fair? What the heck!? Fortunately very few people were actually using them so the lines were short (for the most part).

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G-Force is better than La Revolucion but not as good as Tasmanian Devil.

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Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion.

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If you don't know what these signs reference you need to watch some scary movies.

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This guy outside is actually a better animatronic than anything inside.

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Tombstone fun. Only two of them, but they are actually halfway decent.

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The best (and only) portable water ride I've been on.

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Sky Flyer is the best ride at the fair. It may only be a hundred feet tall, but it certainly feels a lot taller when you are on it.

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Time to take a break from the carnival rides and explore the rest of the fair.

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Since the carnival is located at one end of the fairgrounds, I guess we should head toward the other end.

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The wristbands include the Skyride, so we decided to take that instead of walking.

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Hydro Slide through the trees...wait...Deep Fried Butter?

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Yes, this place is really called the Heart Attack Cafe. You are reading that correctly. It specializes in Deep Fried Butter and Chocolate-Covered Bacon.

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Outside of the carnival area, the Orange County Fair pretty much looks like this.

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The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has a couple of cavemen riding their chairlift. Here at the Orange County Fair, they use stuffed animals instead.

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It looks like the ride is coming to an end.

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Once we got off the Skyride we decided to tour the kiddie area for a little bit. We didn't ride anything but...

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My sister (right) and her friend (left) spent twenty dollars (combined) on the balloon pop to win these. It was eight pops for this size prize at one dollar per dart.

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Once we got back to the main carnival we decided to go for a ride on the La Grande Wheel.

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This is the largest travelling observation wheel in the world and is the same size (or possibly slightly larger) as the Sun...er, Mickey's Fun Wheel at Disney's...er, Disney California Adventure.

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Looking out one side of the wheel gives you a view of South Coast Plaza and the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

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The other side gives you a view of Vanguard University (which happens to be where my mom (Park Bench Sitter) works).

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Naturally, you also have a great view of the fair itself.

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View from above of the (likely) Elissa-friendly spinning coaster.

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Hi-Miler in all its glory.

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Now for my second-favorite ride at the fair: Speed.

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From a short distance away, the ride looks like a giant airplane propellor.

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It may be just me, but it seems pretty unsafe to be standing five feet away from an arm that is whizzing by at 60 MPH.

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Mega Drop is an amazing drop tower.

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It may not look like much but this ride will give you more (and stronger) ejector airtime than most roller coasters.

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I've been on this one before and I didn't like it.

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I still don't know how this old ride manages to draw a huge line when many of the new rides can barely get enough of a crowd to fill two cycles.

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I rode this ride early, but I didn't get around to photographing it until later in the day. I'm still convinced that I wouldn't have felt sick at the end of the day if I didn't ride this.

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Re-Mix waiting for its next set of riders.

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This ended up being my last ride of the day because my brother began to feel sick and wanted to leave.

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For whatever reason, I didn't actually notice this sign until I was on the way out. These are the rules of the carnival.

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I will end with a picture of what is probably the oldest carnival thrill ride still in operation. Hope you all enjoyed it and look for SFMM in the next couple days (sorry, no pictures on that one).

Edited by rcdude
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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay, time to get this up to date. I'll be adding something every other day this week because I need to get caught up before I leave for the IntimidaTour on Sunday.

 

July 26th, 2010-Six Flags Magic Mountain

 

Six Flags Magic Mountain is, out of everywhere I've been so far, the best park for roller coasters. They do not have as many top coasters as Cedar Point, but on the whole their coaster selection is much better. There is not a single roller coaster at the park that I won't wait fifteen minutes for, while at Cedar Point there were at least two coasters I would never ride again unless I could get on the very next train. However, the biggest flaw of SFMM is the lack of a good selection of non-coaster rides. Other than their good selection of water rides, every non-coaster ride at SFMM is worse than similar rides elsewhere. Since it is coaster focused, this doesn't matter too much as I rarely take the time to ride these.

 

Normally, I do not visit SFMM in the summer because it is hot and crowded. However, my sister asked me to take her friends to the park since none of the other parents wanted to go out there. I agreed on two conditions: we would be at the park from opening to closing, and we would be going on a weekday. She choose Monday, August 26th since she was able to get a full car of friends that day. One of them had to drop out a couple days ahead, so our group consisted of six people (me, my brother, my sister and three of her friends).

 

We left late enough so we hit Los Angeles just after rush hour. There was not much traffic except for in the LAX area, so we got to the parking lot at a little after 10 A.M. My sister and her friends purchased their tickets (I got mine and my brother's online using a Club TPR discount, which I highly recommend), and we got in line to enter the park. At 10:30 the gates opened and within five minutes we were inside.

 

Even though some of my sister's friends wanted to go to X2 first, I convinced them not to. We instead headed straight to Tatsu and got on the third train of the day. We then did Terminator, Deja Vu, Riddler's Revenge, and Gold Rusher with minimal waits, then had an early lunch to avoid the crowds. After lunch, we went around the park riding the remaining coasters and doing a couple other rides. We ended up getting on everything, but didn't have time for very many re-rides.

 

Since I was busy acting as a tour guide for my sister's friends, I didn't really take any pictures, so there are no photos here. However, I'm sure there are plenty of photo trip reports of SFMM so mine would likely be nothing new. However, here are my ride reviews.

 

Ride Reviews:

 

Tatsu-Tatsu is my favorite B&M coaster and is the best coaster at SFMM. We headed to it first thing and managed to get on the third train of the day. This is a great ride that seems to be the favorite of quite a few people. It also has the most forceful element I have ever experienced (the pretzel loop). Unlike the park's other B&M coasters, Tatsu's line is somewhat slow moving and can take a while, so I highly advise heading here first.

 

Terminator Salvation: The Ride-This is the best wooden coaster I have been on. Everyone else I know except my brother (who prefers GhostRider) shares my opinion. Terminator is fast, exciting, and features elements not commonly seen on wooden roller coasters such as mist, tunnels, and fire. The ride does feel a little different due to the lack of audio, but I'm sure I'll get used to that over time. If there is anything I have to complain about with this ride, it is the mandatory preshow. When I rode this later in the day, there was a forty-five minute line so the preshow didn't bother me and every train was full. However, when I went on at the beginning of the day the trains had an average of five people in them and we still had to watch the fifteen minute preshow. I don't dislike the preshow, but I wish the park would allow you to just walk through when there are less than two hundred people in line, which would be about a fifteen minute wait on a standard GCI.

 

Deja Vu-Since this was closed for a good portion of the day at WCB it had been a while since I last rode it. I actually like this ride and while it isn't one of the best coasters at SFMM, it is my second favorite shuttle coaster and is in the upper half of SFMM's coasters. The ride is mostly smooth and has a much more terrifying initial climb, especially in the front car. Unfortunately, the line can get really long and loading is slow so if you don't ride in the first hour the park is open the wait doesn't justify the ride unless you've never been on it.

 

Riddler's Revenge-This is by far the best stand-up coaster I have been on. It is one of the must ride coasters at SFMM and is worth the long wait it normally gets. Fortunately, we got here early enough that it was only a three train wait...once the ride reopened. When we showed up the ride was closed to transfer a second train onto the track. After about fifteen minutes, they began loading trains again. As usual, it was a smooth, fun, and intense ride.

 

Gold Rusher-Even though this is the park's oldest roller coaster, it is not a bad ride at all. This ride isn't specifically mine themed, but it does have a pretty good setting due to the natural hillside of the park. It also rarely has more than a ten minute wait so you don't have to invest much of your day to ride it. A good ride, but not something you can't miss.

 

Jetstream-I like this ride slightly better than the Log Jammer because it usually has a shorter wait and the final drop feels larger. Unfortunately, there is really only one decent drop and the ride is over really quickly due to the speed of the boats in the flume. They roll more than float on this ride, which makes it feel almost like a roller coaster. Worth riding if the wait isn't long, but there are better flume rides out there and this one can be skipped.

 

Ninja-Last time I visited the park, this was closed due to the installation of a new programming into the ride system. I'm guessing they did some other work on the ride because it seemed to be running really well. Now that Big Bad Wolf and Eagle's Fortress have closed down, I'm guessing most people would say this is the best suspended coaster operating. I hope the park keeps it around for quite some time because this ride is really the only family coaster the park has. In addition, it rarely has more than a five minute wait if they are running multiple trains.

 

Orient Express-This is the easy way up the hill and connects the top of the hill to the main entrance. It is good later in the day when you are tired and the crowd has dispersed, but if you use it in the morning you won't beat the rush unless you're going to Riddler's Revenge or Terminator. Basic funicular...enough said.

 

Log Jammer-The park's original log flume. If the ride didn't take so long to get up the hill and didn't roll down a third of the course I might like it better, but it is still a good ride. The two drops get you soaked and people can also spray you with water cannons at the bottom of the second drop. Fun, but not worth a long wait.

 

Goliath-This ended up being our longest wait of the day at over an hour. However, they were running the ride as efficiently as possible with two trains, often having the train in the station ready to dispatch before the train in front had reached the mid-course brake run. Even though a lot of people don't like this ride, I actually think it is really good, and it makes it into my top ten steel coasters list mainly because I have yet to ride a B&M or Intamin mega coaster (that will change in a week) and I like Goliath better than the Arrow hypercoasters I have been on (Magnum, which comes close and Desperado, which doesn't). Goliath features a long, although not that steep, first drop, the longest sustained air I have experienced, and the most powerful helix on any coaster in California. I'm pretty sure I would black out if the ride didn't come almost to a dead stop on the midcourse brake run. This is one of the coasters that is not to be missed at the park and, along with Terminator, was one of the only rides I rode twice on my visit.

 

Colossus-Another ride that rarely has much of a wait, but is still a decent coaster. We ended up waiting ten minutes for this ride, which is pretty long compared to the usual two or three trains. It is fun, but pretty forceless. Other than one or two minor airtime moments, the ride is just steep drops and slow turns. It isn't that rough, but does have quite a bit of vibration at the bottom of the hills. I'm fairly certain that this ride would be very successful if it was re-tracked and reprofiled to give a ride similar to the original experience. Until then, it will remain a one ride per visit attraction for me.

 

Scream-Why do people say this ride is rough? I find it perfectly smooth, and although it isn't extremely forceful it still isn't a bad ride at all. I think of this kind of as the Silver Bullet of SFMM; it is a good ride but doesn't have anything unique and is overshadowed by other attractions at the park. I'm sure this ride would actually be quite popular if it wasn't so far away from the rest of the park, but unfortunately it is out of the way so many people don't end up riding it during their visit, making it seem unpopular.

 

Batman the Ride-For whatever reason, this is actually my least favorite B&M inverted roller coaster. It is a really good ride, but I actually think it is too much packed into a short ride. Maybe I'm just not used to old-school B&M intensity since I haven't been on very many of their early coasters, but Batman has always seemed like it was on the extreme side for B&M, who are generally fairly conservative. I still ride it, sometimes multiple tims per visit, and it is still in my top 25 coasters, but I don't get how it is considered one of the best inverted coasters of all time. I guess it is all a matter of personal preference, and maybe I'm just not one for high-g force rides.

 

X2-We ended up going on this right before dinner and it was only a forty-five minute wait. This is my second favorite coaster at SFMM, although it would be the best there if it wasn't rough. I try to ride this in the first two cars, or the inside of the third car. Anywhere else the ride is just too bouncy for me. However, like a few of the other rides here, a visit to the park isn't complete without riding this even if you don't usually go for rough coasters.

 

Viper-Not bad for an old custom looping coaster, but still on the lower end of SFMM's coasters. I do not know how much longer this ride will be around due to its lack of popularity and somewhat uncomfortable ride, but as long as it is there I will try to ride it once per visit as long as the line isn't more than ten or fifteen minutes.

 

Revolution-This is the original looping coaster, but unfortunately it has uncomfortable restraints now. If the park removed the trim brakes and OSTRs on this ride, it would likely become one of the park's better coasters. As it is now, I consider this the least pleasant coaster in the park and will only ride if I can get on the next train.

 

Ride Count

 

Tatsu: 1 (car five)

Terminator Salvation: The Ride: 2 (cars ten and three)

Deja Vu: 1 (car one outside seat)

Riddler's Revenge: 1 (car seven)

Gold Rusher: 1 (back row of car two)

Jetstream: 1

Ninja: 1 (front row of car four)

Orient Express: 1

Log Jammer: 1

Goliath: 2 (back row of car two and middle row of car three)

Colossus: 1 (back row of car four)

Scream: 1 (car eight)

Batman the Ride: 1 (car eight)

X2: 1 (car two outside seat)

Viper: 1 (front row of car three)

Revolution: 1 (back row of car four)

 

Total: 18 rides in 10 1/2 hours (1.71 rides per hour)

 

We left at about 9:30 P.M. because of souvenir shopping. Overall, it was an okay day at SFMM. Although we didn't have very many long waits, the average wait throughout the day was over a half hour. I usually don't visit in the summer for this reason. Fortunately, it only got up into the mid-eighties during the day so it wasn't unbearably hot. I had fun, but I usually have a better time visiting in December or January (unless it is freezing cold).

 

That's it for this update. Tomorrow or Tuesday I will have the next update posted, and it will include photos. However, instead of being an amusement park, this update will have photos of non-amusement park things I did on my most recent trip...a trip to Pismo Beach, California and Sequoia National Park.

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Now for a non-park update.

 

August 1st-5th, 2010: Pismo Beach, California

 

Pismo Beach is a small community located in San Louis Obispo County about four hours north of Los Angeles. It is right along the coast and is a very popular place for the people of inland Central California. I had never been there before, and likely would never have ended up going there if it wasn't for my grandparents on my dad's side. This year was their fifty-fifth anniversary, so they decided to hold a family reunion in Pismo Beach, a town they really like. In total, there were twenty-two of us, consisting of me, my dad, my brother, my sister, my grandparents on my dad's side, as well as four uncles, three aunts, eight cousins, and one cousin-in-law (if that is the proper term). A few people didn't stay the entire time, but most of us did.

 

Day 1: Sunday, August 1st

 

On Sunday, my grandparents had made dinner reservations at an Italian restaurant (called Giuseppe's) in town for 5:30 P.M. We decided to take a scenic route through Malibu. Unfortunately, we didn't leave until after noon and there was about twice as much traffic as we had expected, so we ended up with an ETA of 6:30 P.M. Due to the restaurant being late with the reservation and my dad driving as fast as the law will allow we managed to be able to make dinner. I'm not much of a fan of Italian food, but it was decent (I just had Pizza).

 

After dinner we went to the hotel, which was a Best Western located on the top of a cliff (pictures below). It ended up being a really nice hotel, but since it was getting dark I didn't really explore it until the next day. Instead, I joined some of my relatives in the downstairs lobby to play a game of Taboo while some of the others went in the hot tub. At about ten I returned to my room for the night. After browsing TPR to check for IntimidaTour news, I got ready for bed and just read my book until about midnight.

 

Day 2: Monday, August 2nd

 

I got up at 8:45 A.M., the time my alarm would be set for most days of this trip. After getting dressed, I went over to the breakfast room to find that everyone was gathered around a table out in the pool area. We ended up doing this every morning so we could figure out what everyone was going to be doing that day. On this day, my dad had made rental reservations to rent ATVs for a couple hours. We had to leave at ten so we could be ready to ride when our timeslot began at eleven. We were the only ones doing this activity, with the rest of the group doing other things ranging from wine tasting to relaxing on the beach.

 

After stopping by the rental shop to fill out paperwork, we headed down to the beach. Although the shop is in the town, the rental pickup is on the beach about two miles down it. Since my dad's car has all-wheel drive, we were able to just drive straight down there instead of waiting for a shuttle. When we got there we were told the ATVs weren't ready yet because they were still in use. Ten minutes later the previous riders returned. After the ATVs were refueled, we were given instructions on how to ride and the safety rules, then were turned loose.

 

ATV riding was actually a lot of fun. We spent the two hours riding out on the Oceano sand dunes. Since none of us had done it before, we had a little trouble at first (especially my sister) but by the end of the rental period we seemed to be getting the hang of it. Unfortunately, both my sister and I got friction burns on our hands. Once our time was up we returned the ATVs and went into town to get lunch at a McDonalds before returning to the hotel.

 

That afternoon I walked around the hotel and took the pictures that I have posted below. My dad left at some point to go check out some buildings my grandfather invested in, but ended up being delayed in his return. Since my grandparents had planned to have a picnic for dinner at a park in San Louis Obispo at 5:30 P.M. and he still wasn't back by 5:10, we decided to find seats in our relative's vehicles. My dad got there a little later.

 

The picnic was okay, but not one of my favorite parts of the trip. We had barbeque hot dogs and sausages, and also made Smores. When we got back to the hotel afterward, a number of people decided to go swimming. Instead, I joined the group of people playing Mexican Train in the lobby. At about 10:15 one of the hotel staff members came downstairs to lock the pool up and told us the lobby closed at 10 P.M., but let us stay until 10:30. I then said good night to everyone and went back to my room.

 

Day 3: Tuesday, August 3rd

 

Tuesday began like Monday for me. However, my brother had gotten up early and gone with my grandfather on an outing for a good part of the day. Nobody in the group had any specific plans for this day, but a large group wanted to go ATV riding. This left me with two choices: go ATV riding for a second day, which I didn't really want to do, or stay at the hotel and go to the beach, which I wanted to do even less.

 

Our group of eleven showed up at Steve's ATV rentals only to find a massive line. We then decided to go down to Angello's ATVs, which doesn't even take reservations and had a much shorter line. This proved to be a very bad choice. After filling out the paperwork, we were told that we had to watch a half-hour instructional video. This video consisted of five minutes of instruction and the rest of it was telling you about all the fees you could potentially be charged. After watching the video, we were told that all the ATVs needed for our group couldn't be brought down at once and we would have to wait for the drop-off truck to return for the extras. This was the point where I became skeptical and started to think this was a bad idea.

 

We drove down to the beach and passed all the other ATV rental locations, each of which had a trailer and a number of ATVs present in a fenced-off area on the beach. We kept driving until we reached a signpost in the sand that said Angello's ATVs. There was nothing else around. After we got there, we had to wait about twenty minutes before the truck showed up. They had managed to bring all the ATVs at once by loading ten onto the normal truck and an eleventh one onto a pickup truck. After they were all unloaded, we were briefed on the controls and then set loose. Now, at this point it was about 12:30, and I wasn't really feeling like riding an ATV anymore because we had first shown up at the shop over an hour and a half earlier.

 

Once we got going, it was okay, but I think I had a better time the first day. The ATV on day two was in worse shape than the one I had used the day before, and in addition it would stall if I allowed it to idle for more than a minute and a half. It also occasionally stalled when shifting gears. This happened at least twice when I was going up a hill, forcing me to reverse down and try again. By the time it was time to return ATVs, I was glad to be done. Unfortunately, we weren't quite done yet.

 

When we got back to the return area, we were told that there wasn't enough room on the truck and that we would have to wait there for them to drop off their current load and come back. We told them we were in a hurry but I don't know how much good it did. While we were waiting, my dad and uncles fixed a couple broken flags, then we just sat there for at least ten minutes. Once we were finally free to go (which was about 3:15 P.M.), we stopped by the store to collect our deposits (which had to be in cash) then got out of there as quickly as possible. We stopped for lunch at the same shopping center I had the day before, and about half of us got McDonalds. The other half went to a Taco Bell a few parking rows over. We all decided never to rent from Angello's ATVs again and headed back to the hotel.

 

During the afternoon I didn't do much other than go swimming in the hotel pool for about fifteen minutes. For this night's dinner, my grandparents made reservations at Jocko's, a steakhouse located in Nipomo, a nearby town. The reservations were for 7:00 P.M., but it was about 7:20 by the time we finally got seated. Since I am not much of a steak person, I went with a chicken sandwich, which was pretty good but was too big. After dinner, I was told that I had been made a designated driver (because I'm under 21 and have a license), and I drove back to the hotel. Once we got back, everyone went to their rooms for the night (it was about 10:30 by this point).

 

Day 4: Wednesday, August 4th

 

On Wednesday, my dad had made reservations for tours at Hearst Castle. Our first tour wasn't until 1:30, but we had to be there by noon in order to see the movie. The movie was pretty good, but seemed a little on the long side. After the movie we got lunch, then explored the museum until it was time to board the bus.

 

Our first tour was the experience tour. This tour was a general tour that covered the pools, grounds, one of the guesthouses, and the ground floor of the main house. Since I had never been there it was pretty neat, but I wasn't overly impressed with it. It may have been partly because we didn't have that great of a tour guide, but I wasn't particularly looking forward to a second hour and a half tour after this one.

 

Following a short break back at the visitor center, we headed back up for the second tour. This one was of second, third and fourth stories of the main house, as well as the kitchens and the pool areas. I was much more impressed by this tour, and thought it was easily the one I would have picked if we could only do one tour and I knew what to expect. I took a lot of pictures of both tours, but unfortunately my camera died half way through the second one so I don't think I'll post any on here.

 

After the second tour, we went and walked out on a pier across the highway from Hearst Castle and watched a sea otter, then drove to Avila Beach where dinner was scheduled at a seafood restaurant called the Olde Port Inn. It was a nice restaurant located out at the end of a pier, and had glass tables that allowed you to see down to the water below. However, since I am not much of a fan of seafood and like it even less than Italian, I didn't have much. My brother didn't have anything since he doesn't like seafood at all.

 

After dinner, everyone headed back to the hotel except us. We headed to Arroyo Grande, the largest town in the Pismo Beach area, to visit a cool ice cream store called Dr. Burnstein's. Unlike many ice cream stores, only about a quarter of the flavors were generic. The rest were all created by the staff at the store and were unique (although I'm sure similar things exist elsewhere). I got Extreme Chocolate, a mix of chocolate ice cream and chocolate fudge with chocolate chips in it. Even though I don't like ice cream much (unless it is soft serve), it was pretty good. We then drove through a McDonalds on the way back to the hotel. Once we got back, I played Taboo for about twenty minutes, then headed back to my room for the night.

 

Day 5: Thursday, August 5th, 2010

 

This was our departure day. I went and had breakfast, then went back to the room to pack. We loaded up the car, said goodbye to everyone else, and left around 10:00 A.M. Most people would be going home, but my dad had planned a little add-on that a few of my family members (an aunt, two cousins and my cousin-in-law) decided to do as well. Instead of heading directly home, we were headed for Sequoia National Park.

 

Hotel Pictures

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Best Western Shelter Cove, our hotel for the Pismo Beach part of the trip.

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Unlike a lot of hotels, this one isn't a single building, but is instead several separate buildings.

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All the rooms have an ocean view. Mine was the leftmost room on the lower story.

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Across a bridge there is a small gazebo built on top of a giant rock.

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This is the view from the Gazebo.

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Looking the other direction back toward town.

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Let's go see where this path leads to.

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First you go by this. It looks like it would be a nice place to get married.

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It's a giant rock.

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Noted.

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You first get to this viewing area right on top of the cliff.

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Good view of the ocean from here.

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Years ago there was a threat of the cliff collapsing. A construction company installed these concrete blocks to keep the hotel from falling into the sea.

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Next, you go by a turnoff that goes over to this overlook.

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The stairs heading down to it are not in the best shape.

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In some places they are even more overgrown than this.

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Once out here, you get a good view of the ocean and that's about it.

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If there were bigger waves this place might end up being a soak zone.

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Almost there.

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The lowest overlook isn't too exciting.

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That looks interesting.

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I came down here twice, and at one point the waves were much larger than this one. My dad thought it would be fun to swim through the cave, but since the water and air were both cold we never went swimming in the ocean.

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We're finally at the hotel beach. It isn't the nicest beach, but I guess it's okay. I spent a grand total of ten minutes down here during the trip since: A. I am not a beach person; B. It was cold; C. I didn't have a whole lot of time to kill.

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Time to climb back up to the hotel.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Okay, since I didn't get the Sequoia National Park Photos uploaded yet and I am now back in school I'll just skip that part. I'll just say briefly that it was fun but since I had just been there the previous year I didn't take very many photos anyway. If you are a national park person you'd probably like it, but otherwise it may not be your thing.

 

Now for the final part of my summer:

 

IntimidaTour 2010

 

Due to the length of this trip, I will be breaking it up into segments and I will try to have at least one segment posted per week. Ideally, I'll be on a Monday-Friday-Monday etc. update schedule, but depending on the amount of schoolwork I have this may not be possible. Also, note that the number of pictures in this report will be highly variable as I was sometimes too busy having a good time to take any. The text portion, however, will be very comprehensive and I'm sure there are plenty of good pictures of the parks elsewhere.

 

One more disclaimer: I am really bad at remembering names, so I apologize in advance if I forget or mix up anyone's name. I usually don't use them much in trip reports for this reason unless I am a hundred percent sure of who did what. Anyway...

 

IntimidaTour: Part 1-August 15th-16th, 2010

 

Day Zero: Sunday, August 15th, 2010

 

I woke up at 7:00 A.M. on Sunday morning to find that my dad had cooked cinnamon rolls for my brother and me. After we finished breakfast, we double checked all our luggage, loaded it into our dad's car, and then set out for the airport. He had offered to drive us there so I wouldn't have to pay for parking, even though LAX is about an hour from where I live.

 

We got to the airport before 9:00 A.M. and said goodbye to our dad, then we headed into the terminal. Since we had boarding passes already and were doing the trip without checking any bags, we proceeded straight to security. After getting through the moderate-length security line, we walked over to our gate to find we had 45 minutes before it was time to board the airplane. We passed the time by walking around the terminal and using the restroom.

 

The flight took off at the scheduled time. Although the flight wasn't excessively long, there was no free in-flight entertainment and I got tired of my book after an hour and a half, leading to a very boring flight. Since I don't really like flying in the first place, this made it the most uncomfortable flight for me. The meal didn't help either, as it was a chicken enchilada wrap that I didn't like at all.

 

When our plane landed at Cleveland, we got off the plane and checked to see whether our other flight would be departing from the same terminal or a different one. Since it wound up being a different one, we walked over to the other terminal, grabbed Subway for dinner, and waited for the next flight. It was on time as well, and after a short, uneventful flight we landed at Richmond.

 

We got to the hotel a little before 9:00 P.M. and checked in, then went to our room. I decided to go explore the hotel a bit, and when I came back my brother was a little worried that we were at the wrong hotel because there was no TPR gathering in the lobby like I told him there probably would be. After I reminded him that I didn't even need a credit card to check in, he settled down. We hung out in the room and watched TV until about midnight, then went to bed.

 

Day One: Monday, August 16th, 2010

 

We got up at about 9 A.M. for breakfast. On the way down, we finally ran into some TPR people in the elevator (I believe it was Wes and Alexis). We had breakfast, then went back to the room and hung out for an hour. At 10:45 A.M. we headed down to the lobby, checked out, then headed out to the bus with the mass of IntimidaTour participants. We got on the bus, then Elissa showed up and told us we had 20 minutes before departure. My brother and I both went in and used the restroom (separately) during this time. The bus left right on schedule and headed over to the airport. After about forty-five minutes due to a delayed flight, we left RIC and were on our way.

 

A few minutes after leaving the airport Robb got up in front of the bus and went over the trip rules. We then played "Ask Robb a Question" to get the trip bags. My question was a bit difficult to understand since I didn't word it that well, but it was meant to be "Have you ever been evacuated from a ride due to an accident?" My brother asked "Have you ever decided not to ride something because it looked unsafe?" The answer to both questions was no. After receiving trip bags, it was snack time, then the bus experienced a rare period of downtime.

 

We got to our lunch stop at about 2:45 P.M. and were given an hour for lunch. My brother and I joined a group of people that went across the street to a KFC/Taco Bell. After getting back on the bus, we continued onward to Charlotte. During this portion of the drive, we watched various TV shows, including Baggage, Family Guy, Yo Gabba Gabba, The Simpsons, South Park, SNL, and a few of Robb's awesome Coaster Expedition videos.

 

As we neared our hotel, the bus encountered heavy traffic. It turned out that there had been a tanker explosion less than two miles past our exit with at least one fatality, shutting down the entire freeway. Instead of going to the hotel, we instead tried to find a direct route to the restaurant that wasn't at a standstill. The route we ended up finding was at least moving, but it took 45 minutes to go five miles.

 

We got to our dinner restaurant, the Tilted Kilt, at about 7:45 P.M. I had no idea what to expect of this place since, although Robb described it as a "Scottish Hooters," I've never been to a Hooters before. It turned out to be interesting and quite good. Unlike most trip meals, this one was done on an allowance system. Everyone was given a spending budget of $20 that could be used, shared, or given away in any way they chose. If you went over budget, you were required to go to Elissa that night and give her money. I think this system worked well, and it allowed a much larger variety of choices than some of the other group meals on the trip. My brother and I both got chicken strips. I thought they were pretty good, but not the best I've had, and he thought they were just okay and only had about half of his meal. I then found out that he wasn't feeling well, probably from all the bus time that day.

 

After dinner, we went to the hotel. Everyone got their luggage and got checked in, then we all gathered in the lobby's breakfast room for the snack exchange. My brother left after fifteen minutes and didn't try anything, but I stayed for a bit longer and sampled some homemade cookies Shawn brought, which were really good, Cheerwine, an interesting soda unique to the Carolinas which was also good (thanks Andrew), Belly Flops, which were awesome, and a few other random things brought in by random people. I ended up heading back to my room a little after 10:30 P.M. to find that my brother was feeling better. We both got ready for bed and turned the lights out at about midnight.

 

There are no pictures for this portion of the trip, but I believe every other update will have at least one picture. Hopefully I will have time to post the Carowinds portion before next Monday, but if I don't it will be up then.

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IntimidaTour: Part 2

 

Day Two: Tuesday, August 17th, 2010-Carowinds

 

This was the first real day of the trip. Fortunately, it was much less draining than I was expecting. The day felt kind of like WCB with only fifty people, which Robb had said most days on these trips are like. It was a fun day, but since it was at a Cedar Fair park it certainly wasn't the best day on the trip.

 

I got up at around 7 a.m. to find that I had set the alarm clock wrong and it was my cell-phone waking me up. This is the reason I have multiple alarms set when I actually need to get up for something (in this case, the hotel clock and my cell-phone). My brother and I got dressed, went down and had breakfast, then returned to the room to pack our bags. We went downstairs a little before 8, checked out, then headed to the bus. Right on schedule, the bus left the hotel and, after passing an advertisement for the Florida Modern Slavery Museum and a Fireworks store, arrived at Carowinds.

 

We arrived at the parking lot at about 8:30 a.m. Everyone got off the bus, and we headed to the front gate while Robb and a couple others went to get tickets. The tickets were handed out, and we were let in to the park. Everyone posed for a group photo in front of the stateline sign, then were walked back to our first coaster of the day, Afterburn. We had forty-five minutes of ERT on this ride, so we were here for a little while.

 

Unlike my other reports, I am going to begin inserting ride reviews in at their appropriate locations. I am also going to give each attraction a rating consisting of one of the following:

 

A-One of the best rides I have been on

B-Really good ride, but not something that is worth going out of the way for

C-Not bad, but nothing special

D-Worth riding, but not worth much of a wait

F-Not worth your time

 

Afterburn-Afterburn is a ride I had not heard much about prior to the trip. I knew it was an inverted coaster with similar statistics to Silver Bullet, that it had a batwing and immelmaan (the second of which I had never experienced previously), and that it was one of the last old-school B&M coasters built before the company began to get more conservative. I decided to take my first ride in the front row, and after one ride this instantly became my favorite inverted coaster. The ride has much better pacing than many other inverted coasters I've been on, in addition to being more forceful and less repetitive. The only negative thing I found about the ride was some heavy vibration in one of the rows, but other than that the ride was outstanding. I rode four times during ERT because that was all I could handle, then took pictures and watched my brother keep riding. This ride gets an A.

 

After Afterburn, the group headed over to Intimidator for a half hour of ERT. When we got there we discovered that they were running all three trains. Robb asked the operators to send one train around empty so that the trains would be more full, since a full train gives a better ride. The park complied.

 

Intimidator-I had never been on a B&M mega coaster before, and my limited experience with this type of ride consisted solely of Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain. I really like Goliath, so I figured I would like Intimidator. What I didn't realize is how much different the two really are. Intimidator is a simple series of hills that are designed to produce airtime, followed by a sloped helix to round out the ride. I really, really liked Intimidator. In fact, it became my favorite coaster. Unfortunately, for some reason my brother felt sick after riding, so I quit after four rides (he rode three times). I think the combination of Afterburn and this was too much for him since he had very little breakfast. Nevertheless, Intimidator is just one of those rides I could ride all day without getting off. It gets an A.

 

Since we quit Intimidator ERT a little bit early, my brother and I were able to position ourselves right at the rope for park opening. While we were waiting, we heard the Carowinds song (which was awesome) followed by the Star Spangled Banner. We were then allowed into the park.

 

Originally, we planned to go to Boo Blasters on Boo Hill in order to participate in the Boo Blasters Challenge, but as we passed through Camp Snoopy we realized there was no wait for either of the coasters there, so we altered our plan slightly.

 

Flying Ace Aerial Chase-What can I say about this ride that doesn't seem excessively negative? Well, it wasn't the worst coaster I'd ever been on. The ride was okay, but unfortunately the second half of the ride had horrible headbanging. I'm sure this would be a good family coaster if it had the new lap-bar only trains, but with the current restraints the ride wasn't. I'll give it a D just because there's worse out there.

 

Woodstock Express-This was the worst wooden coaster of the trip. It wasn't because it was rough or because it was small, but because it was uncomfortable. While the ride did have a couple decent dips the cars are obviously meant for kids. This means that anytime I experienced any kind of airtime, my knees would hit the bar. Not fun at all! I'll give this a D as well since it is ride-able, but you might want to consider kneepads if you have long legs.

 

After finishing the two kids coasters, we headed over to Boo Blasters to compete in the Boo Blasters Challenge.

 

Boo Blasters on Boo Hill-This was a pretty standard shooting dark ride, but for some reason it is one of my least favorite dark rides overall. First, I wasn't a huge fan of the guns on the cars because it was a little difficult to see the red lights. This meant it was difficult to aim accurately and shoot the targets. Secondly, usually a dark ride isn't both a scary ride and a shooting dark ride. When something jumps out at you, it usually makes you flinch. This causes you to miss targets. When it is due to you hitting a target that is okay, but on this ride there were several things that would jump out at random. The ride also had a few targets that appeared to be broken. Overall, I would give this ride a D. It is not that entertaining and is too scary for anyone under the age of about nine. As far as scores, I scored 800-something and my brother was roughly a hundred points less. The winners ended up scoring in the 1500-2000 range, so I wasn't even close.

 

Following the Boo Blasters Challenge, we went around the park and did all of the following rides in the order they are listed.

 

Carolina Cobra-Since my only boomerang experience is on the one at Knott's, I expected this ride to suck. Fortunately, since the restraints eliminated all headbanging, the ride wasn't that bad. Either way, it is still a boomerang and I am not a huge fan of boomerangs, so I have to get it a D.

 

Ricochet-This ended up being our longest line at Carowinds since it was about a ten minute wait. I'm really glad I didn't wait any longer for this ride because it wasn't very good. While it isn't my least favorite wild mouse, it is far from my favorite. The ride is uncomfortable, rough, and staples you in too much during the ride. Even if you are prepared for it you can't avoid it. I give this ride a D for discomfort.

 

Carolina Cyclone-Carolina Cyclone has the exact same layout as Canyon Blaster at the Adventuredome, so I kind of knew what to expect. Unfortunately, this ride loses the mountain theming and gains roughness, so it is significantly worse. In fact, I was surprised to find that this ended up being my least favorite coaster of the trip (excluding kiddy coasters). Maybe I just picked a bad seat, but either way I'm just glad I only had to wait one train. D for disappoint.

 

Drop Tower-After five disappointing rides I finally got to ride a good one. I had only been on one Intamin drop ride prior to this one (Drop Tower at California's Great America) and had high expectations of this ride. It was nearly as good as the CGA version, but due to the height it was a little less exciting. The ride still gets a B and is better than any S&S tower ride I've been on.

 

Hurler-I wasn't looking forward to this after everything I had heard about it. Fortunately, my expectations were incorrect and I found it to be a good, but not great, ride. It wasn't too rough and did have one or two spots of mild airtime. Other than one really bad spot in the first turn this ride wasn't any rougher than Cedar Point's Blue Streak. I'll give it a C. This ride actually made it into the #9 spot on my top wood coaster list.

 

Vortex-I was expecting this Vortex to be very similar to Vortex at California's Great America. Although they are similar statistically, this one is more forceful and much smoother. Although definitely not the best stand-up I have been on, I enjoyed this one more than the CGA version and give it a C (CGA's gets a D).

 

Carolina Goldrusher-Somehow this is the best mine train I have been on (excluding BTMR). It has a long pre-lift segment, then two short but similar coaster segments with a lifthill in between. The ride also has a surprise dip into a tunnel at the end. Since I was unable to ride Vortex a second time due to one train operation, this ended up being the only coaster I rode multiple times that wasn't included during ERT. It was also fun riding with a large group of TPR members on my first ride. This gets a C.

 

Whitewater Falls-In general, Splash Boats are my least favorite type of flume ride. Since this one has a straight drop I thought it might be some good. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. Although it was better than Tidal Wave at SFMM, it was still worse than any other Splash Boat ride I'd been on. I'll give it a C because it at least got you soaked.

 

Carolina Skytower-It's an observation tower, so there isn't much to say about it. Since you get a good view, this ride gets a B.

 

Thunder Road-Since both tracks of this ride were running, I rode both sides. The ride would have been better if they were racing them, but it was still an interesting experience. The blue side was running only one train, so it took longer, but gave a much better ride. The silver side was running two trains, but wasn't very good. Blue was smooth and had airtime, silver was rough and stapled you in. Since blue was a good ride, Thunder Road gets a B. It made it onto my top wood coaster list in the #6 position.

 

Following Thunder Road we had finished everything we wanted to do in the park. Since lunch wasn't until 1:30 P.M. and it was just slightly after noon, we decided to go around the park and take pictures. All but a few of the pictures I have posted below are from this period. We also rode Drop Tower a second time because it had almost no wait and was one of the best rides in the park.

 

The group lunch at Carowinds consisted of chicken and...not much else. It was easily my least favorite group meal of the trip. During lunch, the winners of the Boo Blasters Challenge were announced, then it started to rain. Park management showed up and did a Q&A session, then the rain cleared and we got to go on a backstage tour of Intimidator. This tour took us by the transfer track and base of the lifthill, then under the station and into the control room. It was very interesting and covered pretty much all of the technical aspects of the ride in about 25 minutes. After the tour, we were told the bus would be leaving at 4:30 P.M. and let loose. My brother and I decided to try for a second ride on Vortex, but we found that the line was about a half hour due to one train operation. Not wanting to risk missing the bus, we opted for Carolina Goldrusher instead. After our ride, we headed to the bathroom, then stopped at the stateline sign to take pictures before heading out to the bus and being some of the first ones out there. We boarded the bus and left the park right on schedule.

 

Before the trip, I had decided that Carowinds looked like a park that wouldn't be that interesting but had a lot of stuff to do. When I saw the itinerary, I was worried at first that I would not have enough time to do everything, but it ended up that I had more than enough time. I liked the park, but it isn't a park I really care about going back to. Carowinds reminded me a lot of California's Great America, but I actually like it less. The main reason was that the overall ride selection wasn't as good. They did have a couple more good coasters than CGA, but their non-coaster ride department wasn't as interesting (from what I could tell). Additionally, Carowinds is smaller and had the most closed rides of any park on the trip (primarily due to Boomerang Bay being closed). I still would visit Carowinds again if I was in Charlotte for some reason, but otherwise I have no desire to go back there until they get a few more coasters.

 

Speaking of Carowinds coasters, here is something interesting I noticed. Carowinds, overall, has one of the best varieties of ride experiences of any park I have been to. Of the four parks on the trip, Carowinds seemed to have the most varied ride collection. However, Carowinds felt like it had too many coasters which brought the average ride quality down. Here is how I would rank the eleven coasters at Carowinds that I rode (best to worst);

 

1. Intimidator

2. Afterburn

3. Thunder Road

4. Hurler

5. Vortex

6. Carolina Goldrusher

7. Carolina Cobra

8. Flying Ace Aerial Chase

9. Ricochet

10. Carolina Cyclone

11. Woodstock Express

 

Based on my experience of Nighthawk as Stealth, it would probably be right between Afterburn and Thunder Road, but since I didn't ride it at Carowinds I can't accurately place it. Anyway, I personally feel that anything below Carolina Goldrusher on that list could be removed from the park without any negative impact to its set of coasters as a whole. All of the bottom five coasters on that list had some reason why I would never wait more than two trains for them. I understand that most of them are family coasters so they do have a purpose, but I know for a fact that Carolina Cobra and Carolina Cyclone never appeared to have much of a wait. Certainly those two could be removed without much impact. Anyway, my point is that I felt Carowinds was oversaturated in the coaster market and should remove some of their older/worse/less popular coasters before adding new ones to bring the average ride quality up. It doesn't mean that I don't like the park.

 

Carowinds Ride Count:

 

Afterburn-4

Intimidator-4

Flying Ace Aerial Chase-1

Woodstock Express-1

Boo Blasters on Boo Hill-1

Carolina Cobra-1

Ricochet-1

Carolina Cyclone-1

Drop Tower-2

Hurler-1

Vortex-1

Carolina Goldrusher-2

Whitewater Falls-1

Carolina Skytower-1

Thunder Road-2

 

Total-24 rides in 6 hours (4 rides per hour)

 

After leaving Carowinds, we had a 5 hour bus ride to Pigeon Forge. During the ride, we watched more random videos and Robb talked about Dollywood and the random Pigeon Forge attractions. There was also another snacktime. For dinner, my brother and I went to McDonalds. We arrived at the hotel around 10 P.M. After getting room keys, my brother and I went up to our room and spent the night watching Terminator before going to bed.

 

Here are the pictures I took at Carowinds. Most of them are of the rides, so I don't know how popular they will be. This will be the case with all but the Pigeon Forge report so I strongly encourage you to look at the TRs others post as well as Robb's photos in addition to these. Also, I really hope to have Dollywood up on Friday, but plans may change.

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Before I get into pictures of the park, I think I'll post pictures of the people I mention most frequently in my trip report. Here I am!

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And this is my brother. He goes by Gemstone on here and has a total of about 5 posts (he's not very active on the forums).

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ERT began with 45 minutes on this ride. Unfortunately, I had to call it quits after less than a half hour.

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This was my first ever Immelmaan. I like Immelmaans, but they aren't one of my favorite inversions.

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TPR Trip ERT means that there are two trains running and not enough people to fill them, so you can pretty much stay on as long as you want (or in some cases, just change seats).

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ERT next moved to this behemoth, Intimidator. It became my favorite coaster anywhere after just a couple rides.

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I really think they should put a white flag on top of the pole holding the camera as this is the "final lap" of the race. There would also need to be a checkered flag at the beginning of the brakes.

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Boo Blasters on Boo Hill. This was not so good, unfortunately.

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This ride reminds me of California's Great America. However, I didn't ride it because I can not stand being held upside down at all.

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I rode very few flat rides on this trip. This was just one of the ones I missed.

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The waterpark was closed. It looked like it would have been fun to do, but was so small you could likely do everything in about an hour.

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I got to ride something nearly identical to this later in the trip.

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Ricochet with plenty of TPR members in line.

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Even for a wild mouse, this wasn't a very pleasant ride.

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Fortunately, the only roller coaster that was closed during the trip was the one that I already had the credit on.

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I keep calling this ride Drop Zone. Why did Cedar Fair have to change the name to Drop Tower? I would rather it be called Scream Zone.

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A 160 ft. Intamin Drop Tower is better than a 255 ft. S&S Turbo Drop.

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I don't get why people hate this ride so much. I didn't think it was that bad.

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Sure, the ride has very little force and almost no airtime, but it is still a fun ride.

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Yes, this is Scream Weaver, but look at the sky. This was taken less than a half hour before it began to rain.

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The upcharges weren't very popular today. I saw maybe three people on the skycoaster and about two go-kart races the entire day.

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Vortex, the better of the two stand-up coasters on the trip.

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Although statistically similar to the CGA Vortex, this ride is very different.

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Areas like this make me forget I'm in a Cedar Fair park. I believe this picture actually has more trees than trashcans.

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TAKE THE TUNNEL! This is another part of the park that reminded me of CGA.

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Prior to the trip I had heard that this wasn't a very good rapids ride, so I didn't bother to ride. Unfortunately, I later learned that I had been mistaken and missed out.

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Time for lunch. At a bash, this pavilion would be full, but today this is about a third of the way to maximum fullness.

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After lunch we got a backstage tour of Intimidator. Since I was busy listening I only took a few pictures. This is the storage track from behind with the third train sitting on it.

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The gearbox that controls the speed of the lifthill. If there is no train on the lift (rare in three train operation) this is responsible for slowing the chain to a crawl to minimize energy use.

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Water dummies under the station. I think we may have interrupted something.

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Finally, we got to see the computer. This is our tour guide (I forget his name) telling us how everything works.

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Time to head out after a really good day at Carowinds.

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Woot! Nice PTR, that was a great day. Man, i wish i was still on the trip...

 

I recognized myself in the second row of Afterburn in one of your shots for the simple reason that i could see a shoelace and I refuse to tie my shoes for no apparent reason.

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In your Knotts post you mentioned problems with YMCA style groups. I had the exact same issue at Universal Studios while waiting for Jurassic Park. The kids were constantly hitting each other, pushing other people that were in front of them (me), line jumping left and right and swearing like crazy. And their chaperone didn't tell them to stop except for one time which was when one kid pushed the other into the side of a vending machine. Talk about disrespect.

 

 

Edit: My 100th Post!

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Intimidator: Part 3

 

Day 3: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010-Dollywood

 

Dollywood was one of the two parks on the trip I had really been looking forward to. I didn't know too much about the park, just that it was a smaller major park located in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and that it was home to one of the best wooden coasters in the United States. I also knew that it was known for having good food and good shows.

 

We got up at 7:00 A.M. to have breakfast at the hotel, which was unfortunately (at least in my opinion) the worst hotel breakfast of the trip. Since we were going to be at this hotel for 3 days, I decided that I would go to the Denny's in the parking lot on one of the other two.

 

After breakfast, we went back to the room to pick up for the maid, then went down to the bus. It left at 8:00 A.M. for Dollywood. When we got to the park, we were able to park right next to the gate. However, to actually get to the gate you had to walk all the way around the exit gift shop. Once we walked around (which wasn't a problem at all) we were given tickets for both park admission and for lunch at Granny Ogle's Ham 'N' Beans. After getting a group picture, we walked all the way to Craftsman's Valley, passing both our lunch destination and the Grist Mill on the way.

 

Once we got to Tennessee Tornado, we split into two groups for our backstage tour. My brother and I were put in group A, so we got to go walk out on the brake run first. This was a very interesting experience, as I had never walked out on coaster track before. I was very surprised by how much the track shook from people walking on it. While we were out there, our tour guide told us about the ride in general, as well as talking about the four types of brakes used on the ride. Once everyone finished taking pictures, we switched with the other group and headed into the maintenance shack. In here we got to see the second train, which was scheduled for maintenance that day. We were told about the different components of the train and what kind of work they do on the ride each and every day. I found it interesting that the ride only uses one train most days, switching which one was being used each day. Only on busy weekend and holidays does the park actually use both trains.

 

After the tour finished, both groups gathered in the station. The park sent the train on one test run, then our half-hour of ERT began. During ERT, I only ended up riding twice because I waited for both the front and back rows, then didn't have much time left. My brother got one more ride than I did.

 

Tennessee Tornado-Tennessee Tornado is a really good ride. It is one of the smoothest Arrow coasters I have been on, and is definitely the best of their custom looping coasters. Although it is short, the ride features unique elements not found on other similar coasters. In fact, the design feels more like something B&M would come up with than a traditional Arrow. This led to my brother calling it "Arrow's B&M." I would have liked to ride more than twice, but unfortunately I never got around to it. I give it a B.

 

At 10 A.M., we were taken over to Adventure Mountain for ERT, which meant we all got on before anyone from the general public was allowed to ride. However, within fifteen minutes they had begun to take over the structure. During this period, I basically went up and did each course once, then got off.

 

Adventure Mountain-I don't know how to describe Adventure Mountain other than as a playground for adults. You are put in a harness, then allowed to climb all over a structure featuring crossings suspended up to 90 feet in the air. Each crossing had four options: Easy (suspended stairs or a beam), Medium (multiple ropes or a lattice rope thingy), Hard (Often just a single rope with one suspended above to hold onto or two forming an X), and chicken (standard bridge or stairs). I think I took the medium or hard crossings each time unless there was a massive crowd. There are three courses inside the structure: Course one is the easiest course and goes around relatively low area, including crossings over a river and geysers; Course two is the medium difficulty course which features a variety of crossings and also has a section where you can go walk around a rock ledge directly above the walkway; Course three is the most difficult and goes up to the top of the structure, where you can walk across a single rope to the highest point and ring a bell before descending. I liked course three best and course two least. To be honest, Adventure Mountain is a good attraction but not something I would want to wait more than about fifteen minutes for. The line can get as long as two hours due to the low capacity, so it is a "must do first" attraction if you are interested. Due to the fact that the attraction gets repetitive if you do all three courses, I only give it a C, but it is definitely one of the most unique attractions I've experienced.

 

Following Adventure Mountain, my brother and I headed down to Camp Teachittoomee (kidde Adventure Mountain) to get Q-bots. Unfortunately, a group of four was required. We waited for about ten minutes until another group of two showed up, then got our Q-bot and headed on our way (and I sincerely apologize to the people we hung out with for the day, but I forget your names. I believe one of you was from Florida and the other was from Arizona, but I could be incorrect).

 

When we got our Q-bot, we were warned that Blazing Fury was a popular ride and wasn't included, so we decided to head there first. Fortunately, we got there to find only a station wait.

 

Blazing Fury-This is one of only a few rides I've been on where I was like "WTF?" at the end. The ride can be described as a dark ride/roller coaster/water ride hybrid, but nothing can prepare you for the experience. In terms of cheesy dark rides, this ride is the best there is. I really liked this ride, and even though it was Dollywood's worst coaster (yes, I count it as a credit), it is still better than at least 80% of the rides I've been on. I ended up riding a total of four times during the day, and each time I discovered something new in the ride. I also rode in different places, and found the front was best for seeing the dark ride elements, the middle was the wettest, and the back was best for airtime. I give this ride a B.

 

Following Blazing Fury, we headed to Daredevil Falls since it wasn't included on the Q-bot either.

 

Daredevil Falls-Even though I only rode this once, I believe it may be my favorite flume ride anywhere. It is not a traditional log flume (more of a log flume/splash boat hybrid) but was a lot of fun. The ride begins by floating around through the woods and going through a couple tunnels, then reaches a chain lift (yes, it actually has a chain). Once at the top, you go through a sawmill, then down one of the largest and steepest drops on any flume ride. I don't know how tall it actually is, but I would guess it is at least 60 ft. This ride gets an A, and is an absolute must ride attraction even if you don't like water rides.

 

Next, we decided to queue up Smoky Mountain River Rampage so we would be able to board by the time we got there. We headed over to the ride and went in the Q2Q entrance. For some reason, we had to wait longer than the regular line, but since it was only about three boats anyway it didn't matter.

 

Smoky Mountain River Rampage-Most people would call this a river rapids ride, but that doesn't really describe it. The ride is more of a boat ride with a few rapids. It begins with a short lift hill followed by a small drop, then floats along the river slowly. At about four points you would reach a little dip that would accelerate you, then a hundred feet later you would slam into a rapid. None of them really got you too wet. There was also a point where a waterfall was stretched across the path. Just before we got to it, the waterfall shut off, saving us from a drenching. I really liked this ride, but would be disappointed if I waited in a long line only to stay mostly dry. I give it a B.

 

Next, we queued up Thunderhead, which had the longest listed wait time of any ride in the park. Once we got there, we had to wait about five minutes before entering the station.

 

Thunderhead-I've heard that this ride is the best GCI ever built (excluding Prowler). After riding it, however, I found that I preferred Terminator. Thunderhead is an outstanding ride in a perfect setting, but it is just too rough for a GCI. It's certainly a long way from unrideable, but it is shaky. It also didn't seem to maintain its speed as well as Terminator or Roar, which I prefer. The ride did have a very disorienting layout that I couldn't figure out even after four rides, and it was certainly a must ride at Dollywood. I give it an A.

 

Next, we decided to queue up Mystery Mine. After our first ride, we decided to go right back on.

 

Mystery Mine-WOW! This was the big surprise of the trip for me. I loved this ride. It really has three different parts, so it almost feels like three rides in one. The first segment of the ride features a roller coaster/dark ride sequence with a couple small drops, a reverse bank, and a couple other turns. Part two starts out with a couple small dips above the walkway, then you suddenly plunge down a vertical drop and navigate several turns, including the very unique wall turn. Part three features the ride's largest drop followed by two inversions. The first is a simple uphill zero-g roll and the second is a dive loop similar to the one on Manhattan Express, but executed much better. Add in a couple vertical lift hills and you have a roller coaster that makes it into my top five steel coasters list. If there is one negative of Mystery Mine, it is the roughness, but other than that the ride is awesome. It gets an A, and was my favorite ride at Dollywood.

 

Following two rides on Mystery Mine, we queued up River Battle. Once we got there, we discovered that there was no line, so we didn't even go in the Q-bot entrance.

 

River Battle-I like these rides, and this one was much better than the one at Legoland California. It is basically a boat ride where each rider is armed with a spray gun and is able to shoot other riders, innocent bystanders, and targets that trigger different sprayers in the middle of the ride. The two things that really set this apart from the Legoland version are the fact that the boats are actually floating in the water rather than riding on a track above the water and the range of the guns. At Legoland the guns will barely reach the walkway, but at Dollywood you could shoot halfway across it. This is a fun, and wet, ride, and I give it a B.

 

Following River Battle, we decided we better go do the other rides on the Q-bot. We opted for Sky Rider first, so we queued it up and headed over.

 

Sky Rider-This ride was a little disappointing. I was expecting it to be like a star flyer, but smaller. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite the same. Also, the controllable sails on the seats did absolutely nothing. It was fun however, and does get a B, but I would never wait in line to ride it.

 

We skipped Dizzy Disk because, while my brother and I were interested in riding, our friends weren't and it was just a standard Disk'O anyway. My brother went on Lemon Twist, but ended up deciding not to ride because we talked him out of it. We headed back to Blazing Fury and found about a twenty minute wait. We rode, then headed to Granny Ogle's Ham 'N' Beans for lunch.

 

Lunch at Dollywood was very interesting. It was really good, but wasn't really my thing. I ended up having a bit of cornbread and some ham along with about three cokes. This was definitely the most unusual meal I've had at any park, anywhere. Following lunch, the people we were sharing a Q-bot with gave us the magical device and headed off to do SkyZip. We decided to go to the Grist Mill and get Cinnamon Bread. It was...really, really, really, good! Do not miss the Cinnamon Bread at Dollywood! Following this, we decided to go look at the gift shops until it was time for Sha-Kon-O-Hey. While we were looking around, it began to rain.

 

We had reserved seats at Sha-Kon-O-Hey for the 3:30 P.M. showing. I went in not knowing what to expect.

 

Sha-Kon-O-Hey-This was an outstanding show. It almost didn't seem like an amusement park show. In fact, if it was twice as long it could probably be a Broadway musical. The show tells the story of a family who lives in the Smoky Mountains but is preparing to move out west. However, their young son doesn't want to go, and wishes he could stay. He makes a wish to a magical tree and he, his sister, and their grandmother are transported to Sha-Kon-O-Hey, the land of blue smoke, a magical place in the Smoky Mountains where those who love the mountains dwell for all eternity. I won't spoil the ending, but I will say that it is filled with singing, dancing, acrobatics, and just about anything you could want. It is on my list of the five must-see theme park shows and gets an A.

 

Following Sha-Kon-O-Hey, we were given a backstage tour and shown how everything is done in the show. We got to see the flying rig up close, pick up leaves and return them to the leaf box, bounce on the trampoline at the front of the stage, and see how the fire, house, and waterfall effects work. We were also taken backstage and shown the area where all the props are stored, as well as seeing the room where the many costume changes take place. It was a very interesting tour, but unfortunately I was unable to take pictures because my camera battery died.

 

Following the backstage tour, my brother and I headed over to the Dollywood Express to catch the last train of the day, where we had planned to meet with our Q-bot buddies. After boarding, I checked the Q-bot and found out that everything was listed as closed. Looking around, I saw people leaving and nothing but the carousel in operation. We were then told that the train had been cancelled due to lightning in the area. We got off and decided to go souvenir shopping. Once we were done with shopping, we headed to Blazing Fury, which remains open in thunderstorms. We rode twice, during which the storm cleared up, then headed over to Tennessee Tornado. Upon arriving, we were told they would be sending one train only so that Robb could get his POV video with a mounted camera. We got in line, but then I realized that I still had the Q-bot and had to return it at Mystery Mine by 6 P.M. I got out of line, left through the entrance, and jogged over to Mystery Mine. I ended up making it right at 6 P.M., and was the last person to return the Q-bot. Those who had ridden Tennessee Tornado showed up five minutes later. At this point there was a group of people clustered around the entrance to Mystery Mine, as they weren't letting anyone on yet.

 

A short while later, night ERT began. We were told to stay at Mystery Mine for at least fifteen minutes because Thunderhead wasn't ready yet, so my brother and I just kept riding. We ended up getting four rides in, including one while it was raining. We also got on the very last car of ERT on Mystery Mine. After getting off, we headed over to Thunderhead for the remainder of our ERT session. Here they were only running one train, which led to the TPR exercise program. As the train pulled into the station, those waiting to board would yell "out of the train, out of the train" at the riders. The riders then got out and left as quickly as possible. Robb then waited until everyone got on board, and then he would walk over to the side of the station and yell "X seats left. Fill the train!" Those who had just gotten off would duck the railing, run up the stairs, and try to get back on the train. We waited for the first row, then got off and ran around to get back on. After we had boarded the second time, Robb yelled "Last train! 5 seats left. Fill the train!" Once the train was full, it was dispatched.

 

Upon returning to the station, Robb asked the following question: "Riders, you have two options. Option one: Exit to your left. Option two: Exit to your left after ONE MORE RIDE! Which do you want?" After a unanimous vote for option two, the train was checked and dispatched one final time. Everyone who had not made it onto the train looked jealous as we rolled by. Due to the wetness on the tracks, this last ride during ERT was the best ride I had on Thunderhead all day.

 

After ERT ended, we headed back to the bus and went back to the hotel. We got back before 8 P.M. and had the rest of the night to do whatever. My brother and I headed over to Pizza Hut for dinner, then decided to just go back to the room instead of exploring Pigeon Forge.

 

Dollywood was EXCELLENT! It is seriously one of the best parks in the United States, and is my current favorite park. The park is just filled with so many unique rides and attractions, as well as being really well themed and having an excellent setting. Unlike many other parks, everything inside the park feels authentic. As far as rides go, not only does this park have one of the best ride collections anywhere, but it also has four coasters (80% of the park's coasters) that place in the top 20% of everything I have been on. No other park that I have been to can claim that.

 

In short, if you ever go to the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee and don't visit Dollywood, you are missing out on an amazing attraction.

 

Ride Count:

 

Tennessee Tornado-2

Adventure Mountain-1

Blazing Fury-4

Daredevil Falls-1

Smoky Mountain River Rampage-1

Thunderhead-4

Mystery Mine-6

River Battle-1

Sky Rider-1

Sha-Kon-O-Hey-1

 

Total-22 rides in 8 hours (2.75 rides per hour)

 

Now for the pictures. Below you will see almost exclusively pictures taken during the morning. Once we were free to explore the park, I was too busy walking around observing everything and riding rides to take pictures. Also, when I took my camera out for the backstage tour after Sha-Kon-O-Hey, I got a message telling me to change the battery because it was almost dead and wouldn't take pictures. Anyway, here we go.

 

Also, expect the Pigeon Forge trip report sometime next week. It may be Monday, but it could also be later in the week.

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Welcome to Dollywood, one of the best parks in the U.S.

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I remember seeing a TV show where they showed the planning of this. It looks really nice. We took the morning group photo here.

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Time for our backstage tour. Our tour guide talks about how the brakes work on Tennessee Tornado.

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The first brakes you hit are these. They are called eddy current brakes because they use magnets to create eddy currents in the brake fins of the train, which slow the train down.

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Next, you reach these brakes. They are magnetic as well, but are adjustable.

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Since magnetic brakes cannot actually bring a train to a complete stop, you next hit some good old friction brakes.

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Finally, the block brake is responsible for holding the train here when there are two trains running and the station is occupied.

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The brake run also allowed for some good shots of the ride. Here is the lift hill heading up into the mountains.

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Tennessee Tornado has a monster loop. This thing feels weird as you go through it.

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Here is the rest of Tennessee Tornado's short layout. It is only about thirty seconds lift to brakes.

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Dollywood from the Tennesse Tornado brake run. I'm guessing everyone can see Adventure Mountain, but can you spot Mystery Mine?

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Time to head over to the maintenance shack. Here is the switch track to bring trains in here.

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In the event of a power failure, these keep the train from rolling backward down the lift. I was surprised to learn that these weren't required on every car as I previously believed (on Tennesse Tornado, they are only on cars 2-5)

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Tour's over. Let's ride!

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The largest loop Arrow ever built.

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It is kind of hard to see, but there IS a train in this picture.

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If this isn't TPR Trip ERT, I don't know what is.

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As I mentioned before, it began to rain later in the day. This was the only picture I took after morning ERT because I was busy enjoying the park and then my camera battery died.

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IntimidaTour: Part 4

 

Before I begin, let me say that I was originally going to have this update include both the Pigeon Forge day and the Travel Day following it. However, due to a larger than expected number of pictures from Pigeon Forge and a lack of time, I will be doing just the Pigeon Forge part today and will do the Travel Day tomorrow.

 

Day 4: Thursday, August 19th, 2010-Pigeon Forge

 

This was a day that wasn't added to the trip until April. Basically, by this point, Robb & Elissa (along with probably everyone else) had determined that Freestyle Music Park, one of the scheduled stops of the trip, would not be opening this year. Therefore, they presented the trip participants with two alternate itineraries. Option A was the Bonus Pigeon Forge Day. This itinerary would have been Busch Gardens Williamsburg on Monday (Arrival Day), then a long drive and evening at Carowinds on Tuesday, All day at Carowinds on Wednesday, Random Pigeon Forge stuff on Thursday, all day at Dollywood on Friday, and a long drive back to Virginia on Saturday (Kings Dominion was always planned for Sunday). Option B was extending the trip into the Midwest by visiting Kings Island. This itinerary would have been a long drive on arrival day after everyone showed up, Tuesday morning at Carowinds, followed by a nighttime drive to Pigeon Forge, all day at Dollywood on Wednesday, all day at Kings Island on Thursday, a long drive back to Virginia on Friday and all day at Busch Gardens Williamsburg on Saturday. After doing a couple hours worth of research, I voted for option B. There was a lot of debating back and forth between participants about which one to choose, but I have a feeling that Elissa's announcement that option A had been altered to have Busch Gardens on Saturday probably swayed the decision. It ended up being 35-17 for option A, so the Pigeon Forge day was created.

 

The day begin with the rare opportunity to sleep in past eight. However, I ended up waking up early, so I decided to head over to Denny's for breakfast instead of eat at the hotel. My brother came with me, although he was annoyed that he would be exceeding his $15 daily spending limit that day by eating at a sit-down restaurant (he ended up spending less than $30 over the whole day).

 

The bus left the hotel at 9:30 A.M. to head up to Gatlinburg. En route, we were told about the things that we would be doing that day. Our first stop was Ober Gatlinburg. When we got there we discovered that the parking lot was under construction, so the bus had to drop us off across the street.

 

Ober Gatlinburg

 

For those who don't know, Ober Gatlinburg is a ski area by winter and family entertainment center by summer. It does have a narrow winding road up to it, but the best way to access it is via a tram that leaves from the far end of town. We were all given tickets for the tram and then got in line. It turned out that less than ten of us made it onto the first tram and the rest had to wait for the second one. I was on the first one, so once I got up to the top I spent fifteen minutes walking around and taking pictures while I waited for the other tram to arrive.

 

Ober Gatlinburg Tram-To be honest, the tram was my favorite part of Ober Gatlinburg. It is a ten minute or so ride up from the village to the ski area, during which the tram ascends into the mountains, then descends into a valley where the ski area is located. Along the way you got to see the Smoky Mountains from the air, the town of Gatlinburg, and a number of interesting houses built on the steep hillside. I'm a fan of aerial trams, although I haven't been on too many because they aren't too popular at US ski areas. This one supposedly was able to hold 110 passengers, but they were only loading 50 or so per tram cabin when I was there. I certainly would almost always prefer accessing the ski area by this route as opposed to driving up to the parking lot.

 

Once the rest of the group arrived at the top, tickets were distributed and everyone was turned loose after a warning that the bus would be leaving at 2 P.M. and absolutely could NOT wait for late people. Unfortunately, due to a rainstorm that morning nothing other than the scenic skychair was operating at this point. Some people chose to play miniature golf while others just waited around or hung out inside. I went around and took pictures, then went back inside until the sun started to come out. Slowly, rides began to open. I saw other TPR members on the waterslides and carnival rides, but I waited with the masses by the bottom of the chairlift. What was everyone waiting for? The Alpine Slide, of course. At 11:45 P.M. the ride finally opened.

 

Ober Gatlinburg Scenic Skyride-This is a Borvig double chairlift that ascends the mountain. It is about a fifteen minute ride to go all the way to the top, but there is a midstation 9 minutes up if you want to ride the alpine slide. This is as far as I went so I can't comment on the view from the top.

 

Alpine Slides-I really like Alpine Slides, but unfortunately the only one I had been on before (at Big Bear in California) is generally considered the worst in the US. I ended up doing the one at Ober Gatlinburg twice due to how much better it is. In case anyone here is unfamiliar with them, an alpine slide can be thought of as a waterslide where you ride on a wheeled cart down a concrete or fiberglass track. You have a brake lever to control your speed, and it is essential that you use it. The sleds can reach around forty miles per hour on some rides, and if you hit a corner at this speed you will usually crash and get friction burns from the track as well as other injuries. This ride was about a third of a mile long and zig-zagged down the hill until it got to the base of the Blue chairlift, where you got off. Due to wetness, only one track was in operation, but they are both parallel anyway. On my first run I was able to go at a decent speed since I was one of the first people down and all those ahead of me were TPR members with Alpine Slide experience. On my second run, I wasn't so lucky. First of all, I had to wait around a half-hour after getting off the chairlift before I was actually able to go down the slide. Once I got on the slide, I was only a couple of people behind a first timer or someone who took the slow signs too literally. This killed the ride for me, as every time I got going I would have to stop again until the slow person sped up. I've never had this problem on any of the ten or so runs I've taken at Big Bear, and I really think that is the only advantage that ride has over the Gatlinburg one. Nevertheless, it was still a fun ride.

 

After my second ride on the Alpine Slide my brother and I decided we better get down the mountain. We got in line for the tram with some other TPR members who had the same idea, leaving behind those who had waited a little too long to ride the slide. When we got to the bottom of the tram, we headed to a KFC we had seen from the ride to get lunch, then went back to the bus stop. At about ten minutes after two, the bus arrived. We boarded the bus and headed out.

 

Overall, I thought Ober Gatlinburg was just okay. The weather was partly to blame, but I just didn't think it was as good as I expected it to be. If I was in Gatlinburg again for some reason, however, I would definitely return if I had time to see if my experience was any better. Also, if I was ever there in the winter I would definitely want to visit Tennessee's only ski area. It looked like an outstanding area for its size, as it is tiny (8 trails and less than 100 acres serviced by three chairlifts).

 

Nascar SpeedPark

 

Our next destination was Nascar SpeedPark. This was the part of the day that I had forgotten about prior to recieving the itinerary on the first day on the bus. We just came to ride the coaster and leave. Based on what I saw, it looked like an okay family entertainment center, but nothing special, and most likely not worth more than a couple hours of your time.

 

Speedway Draft-Like the park, the coaster was just okay. It wasn't bad, but there was nothing memorable about it either. Granted, it is just a family coaster, but even for a family coaster it wasn't that great. I would rank it slightly ahead of Flying Ace Aerial Chase only because it didn't bash your head, but it is behind Legoland California's Coastersaurus and every family coaster I've ridden that is better than that. Also, we were forced to go around five times. Since the cars were uncomfortable, I wanted to get off after just two. Oh well.

 

Following Nascar SpeedPark, the group was split in two. Half of the participants went Zorbing while the other half went to the Track, then the groups switched. I went to the Track first.

 

The Track

 

The Track looked like a good family entertainment center, but unfortunately I didn't have time to do much. We were each given five "ghetto tickets" (blank tickets with "1 ride" written on them because the printer was broken) and then turned loose. In an hour and a half, my brother and I only managed to use one ticket each because we also decided to do bungee jumping, which took at least half of our time.

 

Wild Woody-This is a three story spiral go-kart track. Unfortunately, it isn't as great as it looks or sounds. You first have an ascending spiral track which keeps you from gaining speed. You then have a descending spiral followed by a two-story double drop, both of which are speed restricted. Only on the turn between the bottom of the drop and the start of the ascending spiral can you actually get going fast enough to race. Additionally, all of the elevated sections of track were made of wood and were quite bouncy. Not that great as a go-kart track, but definitely a unique experience.

 

Bungee Jump-This was awesome. I had never been bungee jumping before so as soon as I found out we were going to the Track I decided I was going to do this. Unfortunately, this and the skycoaster are so close together that both can't be run simultaneously. This required us to wait for at least twenty minutes while the skycoaster people finished up before we were helped. Once you are harnessed up, you ascend a 75 foot tower. It doesn't sound that tall, but as you climb to the top it just seems to get taller. You are then asked how you want to jump: head first, feet first, or backward. I chose feet first since I'd never done it before and don't like hanging upside down. Once you are attached, you are told to stand on the edge of a tiny platform, then, once everything is ready, you are told to jump. Even though I knew the attraction was safe, stepping off the platform was one of the scariest things I have ever done at an amusement park. It gave me more of an adrenaline rush than any coaster on the trip (save Volcano). After about twenty seconds of bouncing, they lower you onto an airbag and you are unhooked. The bungee jump was a lot of fun and definitely something I want to try again, but I can't imagine myself ever doing it head first.

 

After the bungee it was time to head back to the bus so I didn't have time to do anything else. I would like to go back here sometime and try the other attractions, especially the other go-kart track and the mini-golf, but I don't know when (or if) that will happen. Maybe TPR will do another Deep South trip in four or five years and I'll get a chance to return, or maybe I'll convince my family to take a vacation here.

 

After boarding the bus, we headed off to Smoky Mountain Zorb for our next adventure.

 

Smoky Mountain Zorb

 

This place isn't located right in Pigeon Forge, but is up in the mountains near the town. However, the road up to it is not very bus friendly. This meant our bus driver had to either back down or back up the road to enter/leave the parking lot. Our amazing bus driver managed to do it three times (once backing uphill and twice backing downhill) without incident.

 

Once we got down to the zorb building, we signed in, then got ready if we needed to. Participants were given three options: Dry (called a Zorbit, you are strapped in to the zorb and tumble head over heels down the hill) or Wet (called a Zydro, you are placed in a zorb with about fifteen gallons of water and rolled down the hill) were the two main choices, while wet riders were given the choice of either wet by themselves (one rider) or wet with friends (up to three riders), and those choosing wet by themself could either take the straight track or the zig-zag track. I opted for wet zig-zag, while my brother chose dry.

 

Once ready to zorb, everyone lined up outside and were taken up the hill 8-10 at a time in a van with no seatbelts and driven at a seemingly unsafe velocity up a very bouncy dirt road. I don't know how everyone survived that ride, as some were without seats (since the place was technically closed, they were trying to get everyone finished as quickly as possible and bending the rules slightly). I found bracing myself by pushing on the ceiling to provide the most stable ride.

 

When the van got to the top, everyone was instructed to sit on bleachers until it was time for their ride. The operator would call people one at a time based on what type of ride they were doing and what zorbs were available at the top. I ended up being fifth or sixth down out of our group of nine.

 

Zydro: Zig-Zag-I'll admit that I was a little nervous at first while waiting for my ride, but once the ball started rolling it was awesome. The ride felt like a mix between a waterslide and a washing machine. Even though the zorbs are semi-transparent, it is very difficult to see outside of them while rolling down the hill. During the ride, I kind of sloshed around and spun in various directions, never truly able to tell which direction I was moving in. Once I stopped at the bottom, I finally realized where I was. However, I still fell on the ground getting out just like almost everyone does (especially wet people).

 

After my ride I got changed, then took pictures as the last group of seven took their rides. We then got back on the bus and headed out.

 

Zorbing was, for me, the best part of the Pigeon Forge day. I loved it, but could not imagine doing the dry zorb as I would get totally sick. This is something I would definitely want to do again if I ever return to Pigeon Forge as it is a very unique attraction. The place also seemed very nice, and the staff were very fun and seemed to be doing their job perfectly while enjoying it. I heard Robb had some problems with the business owner, but other than that I can't think of anything bad with Smoky Mountain Zorb.

 

Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride

 

This was our final stop of the night (well, for attractions, at least). The second zorb group was dropped off here first, then the bus went back to the Track for the others. When we pulled up I had no clue what to expect.

 

Ride Review-At first glance, this looks like an ordinary water dark ride. However, it isn't actually quite the same. The ride is actually connected to an underwater track and pulled through by chains on the straight sections. On the turns, an arm attached to the side of the boat and rotated around the turn. The ride really had no point to it, and was just an ultra cheesy dark ride. It was even more of a "WTF?" ride than Blazing Fury was. My brother actually said that Knott's would improve significantly if they installed a ride like this but with a more traditional boat flume system to replace Kingdom of the Dinosaurs. I, on the other hand, didn't really get it. I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of random cheesy dark rides, so that likely had something to do with it. Either way, I'm glad I rode it as I was curious about it from the moment I first saw it on Tuesday evening. However, I do not think I will ever ride it again, especially when it is $15 per ride.

 

Following the ride, we were told dinner was at 8 P.M. at the neighboring TGI Friday's, then turned loose. My brother and I went down to Lazerport to do the Roller Coaster Go-Karts, but changed our mind when we saw their actual speed. Instead, we played around in the arcade until it was time for dinner.

 

Dinner at TGI Friday's was my least favorite of the three group meals on the trip. It wasn't because the food was bad or anything like that, but...I don't know, maybe it's just because it was at a more generic restaurant I can go to anytime a like (although I don't particularly like TGI Friday's). I also much prefer the "allowance system" to the "standard meal system." At TGI Friday's, we were told that we each got a salad, one of three entrees, a dessert, and a drink. I had some type of chicken and my brother had a pasta dish with chicken in it. Neither of us had salad since we don't really like salad and we both tried the cheesecake for dessert.

 

After dinner, Robb announced that you could either take the bus back to the hotel or explore Pigeon Forge and go back on your own. Since we were tired from all the activity that day, and because my brother really doesn't like to explore areas without an expert, we went back to the hotel. There was a planned pool party that night, but neither of us attended because we didn't feel like it. We simply stayed up until around midnight watching TV and then went to bed.

 

After the day of activity, I am somewhat glad we did Pigeon Forge instead of Kings Island. At the same time, however, I am hoping that I get to Kings Island at some point in the near future (within five years) as it looked very much like Kings Dominion, but potentially slightly better. I also want to try Diamondback to compare it to the other B&M Mega Coasters I rode on this trip and will ride next year, and have been wanting to try the Beast for some time since it is so unique and so highly regarded.

 

Picture time.

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As mentioned above, I was on the first tram. This gave me plenty of time to walk around and get pictures. This is the view from the parking lot of the ski area.

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This is the device that tensions the tram cables. If it failed completely the cables would sag and the car would drop off and plunge to the ground.

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While waiting for the other tram to arrive I toured the inside area. First, I watched Robb take Kristen on the carousel.

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I then watched some people go skating for about ten minutes before heading back outside.

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Back outside just as the tram car was arriving.

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It is a little hard to see, but about 90% of the people in this cabin have an IntimidaTour lanyard on.

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The view upon leaving the building. Since the Alpine Slide isn't running yet, let's take a tour.

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This swing ride was right outside the exit. It looked pretty sad.

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The Blue Cyclone Rapids was the largest of the three water slides. I've been on similar slides before and didn't find them that great, so I didn't bother with it.

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Small Mini-Golf course that kept some TPR members occupied until the Alpine Slide opened.

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The other waterslides. I considered doing these but decided to do the Alpine Slide twice instead.

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Since Gatlinburg is a ski area in the winter, we can't forget about the chairlifts. Consider yourself warned. Since I am a skilift enthusiast as well you are about to be educated. Still here? Good. This is the blue chair. It is a double chair, meaning that it carries two people per carrier. The lift is used to carry the alpine slide carts in the summer, but in the winter it functions as one of the intermediate slope chairlifts. It parallels the scenic skychair but stops at the mid-station.

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This lift is something known as a "mutt lift." The towers of the lift are built by a company called Borvig, who is an older company that is no longer in business. The carriers are designed by Ski Lifts International (SLI), and the terminals are by Riblet. They can be recognized by the eye-like windows on the drive terminal.

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See? Riblet...sign of quality. Riblet was one of the premier manufacturers of fixed grip charlifts (which all of the ones at Ober Gatlinburg are) until they went out of business in 2003 due to the lack of demand in the market. They are kind of like Arrow in the coaster world; they were the best of their time, but lost popularity due to better designs they refused to adopt.

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The Black Chair is the main lift on the mountain. It goes to the top of the intermediate and advanced slopes. This is a Borvig fixed-grip center-pole quad chair (built by Borvig, four people per chair, the chairs are supported by a single pole in the center as opposed to two poles on the outsides).

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The Red Chair is last. It is the same type of lift as the Black Chair, but accesses the beginner slope. There are no chairs on the line because they are somtimes removed for maintenance during the summer.

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We can't forget about the Scenic Skychair. This is a Borvig fixed-grip double chair with SLI carriers.

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One way to recognize a Borvig is to look at the bullwheel. They often have a snowflake pattern.

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Here's a close-up picture of a SLI carrier. This is an outer-pole chair that has a retention bar to secure passengers.

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Time for Nascar Speedpark. This is Speedway Draft.

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This is on the third lap. I think most of these riders want off.

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The bungee tower at the Track. I took this after I got down while I was waiting for my brother to jump. You can't see him, but he is getting hooked up on top.

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Here's the Zorb hill. You can see the three tracks down the hill clearly in this photo.

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The Zig-Zag track. These fences are the only thing keeping you on course.

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Here is where you really get going as it is a straight shot to the finish.

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Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride. This is the only picture I took of this attraction. Hopefully someone will post a POV, or at least Robb will include one on Dark Rides in the Raw (whenever that comes out) because you really have to see it in order to understand it.

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Finally, the view from my hotel room in Pigeon Forge. I think this was actually taken the first night in Pigeon Forge but I felt it would be better to include it in this report.

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IntimidaTour: Part 4.5

 

This will be a relatively short update with only three pictures, but it will still cover one full day.

 

Day 5: Friday August 20th, 2010-Travel Day

 

This was the day of the trip where I had planned to sleep in. However, I was woken up at 6:45 A.M. by my brother, who wasn't feeling very good. We called my grandmother, who used to work as a nurse. Based on his symptoms, she said he should take some Pepto Bismol and try to relax. Since that wasn't one of the medications we brought along, I went out and walked a mile and a half down the street to a Walgreen's to get some. Fortunately, he felt better after taking the medicine and by lunch he was completely fine.

 

Since I didn't have time for breakfast after returning, I grabbed a slice of toast and ate it while packing. We got on the bus, which left at 9:15 for the longest drive in TPR trip history (a total of over eight hours on the bus). The ride was mostly uneventful at first, consisting of another DVD of random videos. We then had snacktime, then played a round of Robb's BS Trivia for the left over shirts from the Middle America and IntimidaTour trips. We also passed around the snacks left over from the snack exchange on the first night.

 

The bus stopped for lunch somewhere in Western Virginia (not West Virginia) around 1 P.M. We went to McDonalds, then went next door to a gas station to buy some candy. After the hour lunch stop, it was back on the bus for the drive across Virginia. On this drive, instead of the usual DVD, we watched Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. This movie was ultra-cheesy but was a very fun movie towards the end. The first half was boring, but once the Megalodon appeared it became epic. Any movie that features a shark large enough to eat a life raft in one bite who is also able to conveniently catch people jumping off a ship is an automatic win. The best part was where a guy on a jet ski rode it right into the shark's mouth.

 

After the movie, we had a ten minute toilet stop at a rest area. Fortunately, nobody delayed the bus from leaving since there weren't any distractions here. We then had the final snacktime of the trip, followed by the last random video DVD. By the time it ended we were nearing our destination: Williamsburg, VA. Before heading to the hotel, however, we had one other stop to make.

 

Go-Karts Plus

 

Back when Elissa announced there would be a bonus credit on Friday, this was my first guess as to where we would be stopping. I was right. Go-Karts Plus was another brief credit stop. It was very similar to Nascar SpeedPark, but looked like it might be slightly better. It certainly at least had trees all over as opposed to nothing but asphalt. They also had a roller coaster (naturally).

 

Python Pit-This is a small Miler kiddie coaster. It was okay, and since I generally prefer Miler kiddie coasters to Zierer kiddie coasters it was better than Speedway Draft. Since only five people could ride at once, it took a little while for everyone to get their credit, but with the ride only doing one lap and an average of a 1 minute load cycle they got through the line in under a half hour. This ride also had one spot with extremely low clearance, and riders were repeatedly warned to keep their hands down. If someone raised their hands above their head, the operator would blow a whistle at them similar to a lifeguard at a waterpark.

 

Go-Karts Plus...if I go back to Williamsburg, I wouldn't mind coming back here for a few hours to check it out. They looked like they had a couple go-kart tracks, bumper boats, mini-golf, a Disk'o, and some kids rides.

 

After leaving Go-Karts Plus, Robb talked about the 2011 and potential 2012 trips, then told us that dinner was at 8:30 P.M. and that we would have to walk to the restaurant. We then arrived at the hotel, were given room keys, got luggage, and headed to our room.

 

At about 7:30 P.M. my brother and I headed down to the lobby to find a group of people forming. When Robb showed up he said we could walk over whenever we wanted. We went outside to find the restaurant was less than a quarter mile down the street. Unfortunately, it was on the other side, and the nearest crosswalk was nearly a quarter mile in the opposite direction. I'll let you guess what happened.

 

Once we were across the street we were met by Elissa, who said she didn't see anything and told us to keep out of the restaurant until it was time for dinner and she told us to enter. Therefore, many members of the group toured Yankee Candle, located right next to the restaurant. This place was amazing. Although it is only one store (a store the size of the average Ikea), it is split into a number of smaller areas and feels more like a small shopping mall. There was a Candle Emporium (obviously); Wax Works, where you could make your own candles; The General Store, which is just what it's name suggests; Dylan's Candy Bar, a candy shop selling various types of treats; Yankee Candle Toy, a toy store; Holiday Park, a section of the store decorated like a park in the winter complete with a Christmas tree and fake snow; Yankee Candle Home, a general home improvements section; and Town Square, which had various little carts and a working clock tower, and was decorated like an outdoor street. They actually handed out maps of the store.

 

After twenty minutes it was time for dinner at Carrabba's. This place did not disappoint, and was actually my favorite group meal of the trip. My brother and I were joined by Terry and Greg, who were really great guys. We enjoyed talking with them and seeing some of Terry's awesome 3D models. For dinner I had grilled chicken and my brother had pizza, one of his favorite dishes. As at the Tilted Kilt, we were given an allowance of $25 each and instructed to pay Elissa if we went over. We were also told we could leave whenever and head back to the hotel. I can't remember what time my brother and I left, but it was a little before ten when we got back to the hotel. Overall, Carrabba's really is one of the best restaurants and I really wish we had some of them out here in California. The most interesting thing about this statement is that I'm not really a huge fan of Italian food. Strange.

 

Once we got back to the hotel, we decided to go to bed early as the next day was the earliest morning of the trip: Busch Gardens. On this day, we would have to get up at 6 A.M.

 

Here are a few pictures of the coaster at Go-Karts Plus.

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There is Python Pit in all it's glory. This is the third place it has operated at.

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For the first time ever, a TPR trip included a credit not a single participant had. This led to what is likely the longest line Go-Karts Plus has ever had for this coaster.

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The true helix of death. If you are much over six feet and raise your hands, you WILL hit the support at the bottom. Busch Gardens coming next week.

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  • 3 weeks later...

No, this trip report isn't dead. I've just been busy with schoolwork for the past couple weeks. I intended to have this finished by now, but if all goes according to plan I may have it finished this weekend.

 

IntimidaTour: Part 5

 

Day 6: Saturday, August 21st, 2010-Busch Gardens

 

Of all the parks on the trip, Busch Gardens Williamsburg was the one I was most looking forward to visiting. I've wanted to visit the park ever since one of my friends got to visit back in 2006, and as soon as this trip was announced I pretty quickly decided that I wanted to do it. In fact, Busch Gardens was the primary reason that my brother decided to do the trip as well.

 

Originally, the plan was to visit Busch Gardens on Monday. This would have meant we wouldn't be able to get there until about two in the afternoon because we would have to wait for the Middle America people to arrive. Elissa then decided that she would fly in the day ahead so all the early arrivers could have a full day at the park. Eventually, it was decided that, since Freestyle Music Park had been dropped from the trip, we could do Busch Gardens on Saturday and everyone could have a full day at the park. This worked out really well, and allowed Robb & Elissa to arrange the largest backstage tour they have ever done on a TPR trip.

 

Our day started early, as we had to leave the hotel at 7 A.M. After a little bit of a drive (a half-hour or so) we arrived at the park. Instead of using the main entrance, we were taken over to a gate by Apollo's Chariot. Everyone got off the bus and was given a wristband, an admission ticket, a meal ticket, and a quick queue. We all had our tickets scanned, then entered the park through a backstage area. After a short walk we arrived at Apollo's Chariot, where we had a full hour of morning ERT, during which I rode 9 times (once in each car).

 

Apollo's Chariot-After my experience on Intimidator, I was very excited to ride Apollo's Chariot. I had heard that this was one of the best steel coasters not just in the United States, but in the entire world. I rode a total of ten times throughout the day, and found it to be fun, but that I preferred Intimidator. I have no clue why. Apollo's Chariot has a lot of airtime and is glass smooth, but for some reason I didn't enjoy it as much. It may be because the ride felt short when compared to Intimidator, or it may be because it was smaller, but for whatever reason it didn't seem as good. It is not a bad ride, and still ranks in my top twenty roller coasters, as well as being the second best at Busch Gardens, and it did live up to the hype, but it wasn't my favorite coaster of the trip. I do believe, however, that it was a favorite of a majority of trip participants, especially if you remove Intimidator 305 from the equation (more on that later). In short, Apollo's Chariot is an A ride and is an absolute must ride regardless of wait time, but it wasn't my favorite ride of its type.

 

After ERT ended, it was time for our four hour backstage tour. During the tour, we would be given a behind the scenes look at Curse of DarKastle, Alpengeist, Griffon, Europe in the Air, Loch Ness Monster, and Escape from Pompeii. Our large group split into four groups of roughly fifteen each. My brother and I joined group A, which was known as the "Steve Team."

 

The tour began with a walk through Festa Italia, Italy, and Oktoberfest to reach Curse of DarKastle. All four groups crowded into the maintenance room for the ride where we learned about the ride vehicles and got to watch a profile test, which is essentially a run-through of the ride program while the car is stationary. This was very interesting to see, and gave me an idea of what to expect when I would get to ride later. We then got to walk the entire track of the ride, starting at the maintenance bay and heading in the reverse of the direction of travel. It was very cool seeing all the sets of this ride with the lights on. I also found it interesting how only part of the room was themed and the areas opposite the direction the car faces were just black walls. This is something very few dark rides can get away with. In addition to walking through the ride, we also got to go see the projector room.

 

Following the DarKastle tour, all four groups headed in separate directions for the remainder of the tour. Our group headed to Alpengeist first. Here, we got to tour the maintenance area, learn about the ride and its maintenance procedures, and hold coaster wheels. This is the first time I've ever got a chance to touch ride parts guests usually aren't allowed to touch. I was surprised by how much the road wheels weighed (if I remember right, they were around 40 pounds). The guide/upstop wheels were much lighter. After about fifteen-twenty minutes we moved on.

 

We next headed over to Griffon. Here, we got to tour the maintenance bay as well. I was surprised to learn that when the trains are in here, they aren't actually on the ride track, but are instead held up by drive tires and a rack on each side of the train. The wheels for this ride were much heavier than the Alpengeist wheels, so I didn't even try to pick one up. We also got to walk under the ride a little to get pictures from areas guests normally can't access.

 

After Griffon, we took the one restroom stop of the tour, then headed to Europe in the Air. Here, we got to ride.

 

Europe in the Air-Europe in the Air is a simulator ride similar to Soarin' Over California, but is a normal motion simulator instead of an inverted one. This makes the ride more intense as the motion platform can tilt much more than Soarin' can. The experience begins with a preshow telling you which countries you will be visiting on your flight. You are then sent into a different room and shown a safety video before boarding the ride. The attraction itself is just okay. While it does have some advantages over Soarin', such as transitions between locations, it is overall not quite as good. I thought the ride was a little too much simulator and not enough scenic tour. In addition, the Paris segment didn't make sense, as an airplane wouldn't be driving around the streets. Overall, while it isn't a bad ride, it is my least favorite simulator attraction, which requires me to give it a D.

 

Following our ride, we were taken a few at a time and shown the control room for the attraction. This was interesting, as we got to see what the ride operators see. It is very similar to some operator simulator games I've played online, so I could kind of tell what the different controls were for. After everyone had seen the control room, we headed off to our next destination.

 

Our next stop was Loch Ness Monster. Here, we got to go to the maintenance room under the station and play around with all kinds of coaster parts. Wheels on this ride were really light, so I decided to see how many I could hold at once (I got four). I also tried wearing a shoulder harness around. It was easier to keep it balanced than I had expected, and I managed to wear it for about five minutes while I walked around without dropping it. They certainly feel much lighter when they are attached to the train. I also tried to pick up a section of coaster chain, but it was so heavy I could only lift one or two links.

 

Following Loch Ness Monster, we stopped to get a drink, then headed to Escape from Pompeii. Here, we went into the dark ride building and checked out the ride from several areas. First, we visited the control room where the fire effect operator is stationed. He told us a little bit about what he does, then we went through a corridor to another control room, the drop controller. I had never thought about it before, but the section of the ride building not seen by guests looked like nothing more than an industrial warehouse. I guess it doesn't need to.

 

After visiting the drop controller, who oversees the boat as it plunges down to drop and watches to make sure nobody goes swimming, we visited a small outcrop where we could watch guests float by. Some people decided to watch silently, while others played tricks on the unsuspecting riders such as waving to them, popping up from behind the wall, or flashing them with their camera. It was here that I realized how high capacity Busch Gardens can manage, as the boats would come by every thirty seconds or so. In fact, Busch Gardens is probably second only to Disney in terms of ride efficiency.

 

Following our tour, we got to ride. All of us were loaded into a private boat, and we were sent on our way.

 

Escape from Pompeii-Escape from Pompeii is a really good ride. It was my second favorite flume ride on the trip (after Daredevil Falls) and is probably my favorite splash boat ride (unless you count Daredevil Falls as a splash boat). The ride featured a short, but very unique, dark ride section and a relatively large and steep drop for this type of ride. You also get very wet, especially in the front row. I think I'll give this ride a B.

 

Following Escape from Pompeii, we headed back over to Oktoberfest via the floating bridge for our final stop on the tour...a ride on Curse of DarKastle.

 

Curse of DarKastle-This is my favorite simulator ride. Yes, I consider it a simulator, and not a dark ride, as a good portion of it is a movie and if the whole thing was just a movie with a regular simulator it would be just as good. The ride was very interesting, fun, and was definitely a must do attraction. Even though I had walked through the ride earlier, it was a completely different experience to actually be riding it. I ended up riding a second time later in the day, and would have liked to ride more, but the line looked to be over an hour and I didn't want to wait. I give this ride an A.

 

After our ride, our tour guide said farewell and we were turned loose in the park. My brother and I decided to go get lunch before doing any rides, since it was already after 1 P.M. We went to a small stand in Scotland that sold chicken strips. They were actually really good.

 

After lunch, we took the skyride from England to France.

 

Skyride-Unlike most skyrides, this one had not two, but three, different stations. They were in England, France, and Germany, so the attraction made somewhat of a triangle. I ended up riding two of the legs, and after timing them determined that it was an isosceles triangle, meaning two sides were the same length and a third side had a different length. The ride had a bit of a line both times, but it wasn't too bad and saved a lot of walking. I give it a B.

 

We got off the skyride planning to head to Griffon, but it was broken down so we changed our plans. Instead, we went to Alpengeist.

 

Alpengeist-Alpengeist was a really good ride, and made it onto my top twenty coasters list. However, it wasn't as good as Apollo's Chariot, ranking it third out of the five coasters at the park. It also wasn't as good as Afterburn, so it didn't become my favorite inverted coaster. It is, however, better than the other four inverted coasters I have experienced. I give this ride an A based on my four rides throughout the day.

 

Since Griffon still wasn't open after riding Alpengeist, we decided to do the log flume.

 

Le Scoot Log Flume-This was a really good log flume. My only problem with the ride was that it was too short. However, it is my favorite unthemed log flume and gets a B.

 

Following Le Scoot, we noticed that Griffon was running again and headed over there. Since it had just reopened, we joined the regular queue and got to the station within ten minutes, just as a large group of TPR members arrived in the quick queue line. We all got in line for the front row, and within three trains were on.

 

Griffon-Griffon was amazing. The ride is short, but it features the best drop of any coaster I have been on. I also love hanging over the edge in the front, and in the back you get ejected the entire way down the drop. Although it is a little bit repetitive, Griffon made it into the number four spot on my coaster list, right behind Maverick and right in front of Mystery Mine. It definitely gets an A, and is the best ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

 

Following Griffon, we went to the train station and took the train back to Scotland.

 

Train-This is a really good way to get around the park. It is probably the most effective transport ride I've seen at any park, and is very similar to the Disneyland Railroad. I made ample use of this throughout the day as it never had more than a one train wait and they had two of them on the track. I give it a B only because it isn't actually much of a ride, and more of a transport system.

 

When we got off the train, we headed to Loch Ness Monster.

 

Loch Ness Monster-Loch Ness Monster was the first roller coaster that I ever added to my "list of coasters I must ride" list. It was a good ride, but wasn't quite what I expected. The first half of the ride was good, but the second half was pointless. All it did after the second lifthill was go around a turn, down a hill, through a loop, and back up to the brakes. I wouldn't have minded if this part of the ride was left out, but I know that the park only had it because they wanted to have interlocking loops. The ride was fun, but I only rode once, and it became my least favorite coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I'll give it a C. Compared to the other Arrow loopers I've been on, this one comes in behind SFMM's Viper and ahead of CGA's Demon. It was nowhere close to as good as Tennessee Tornado (as I had thought it might be) but was also nowhere near as bad as Carolina Cyclone.

 

After Loch Ness Monster, I headed over to Sesame Street Forest of Fun to ride Grover's Alpine Express, but upon finding the line was over a half hour I decided I would come back later. Instead, we headed over to Apollo's Chariot and rode with the Quick Queue, then took a ride on Roman Rapids.

 

Roman Rapids-This ride was good, but not great. It was a little too short, and I didn't like how you stayed mostly dry until the end where the boat went under about five waterfalls in a row, completely soaking all riders. However, we happened to ride with a few other random trip participants, so we got wet with friends, which added to the fun. I'm going to give this ride a C because it does what a rapids ride should, but isn't anything special at all.

 

After Roman Rapids, we took the train to New France and rode Curse of DarKastle a second time, then took the skyride back to England and went to get dinner at a pizza place in Festa Italia. Even though I'm not a huge pizza person, I thought it was pretty good. I decided that overall Busch Gardens Williamsburg has the best traditional amusement park food out of any park I've been to.

 

After dinner, we went back to Sesame Street Forest of Fun to ride Grover's Alpine Express, despite the fact that it still had a bit of a wait.

 

Grover's Alpine Express-If you remove Disney from the equation, this is the best kidde coaster I've been on. It is large enough to be not be boring for adults, but is also small enough to not scare kids. I give it a C in general, but for kids it gets an A.

 

After Grover's Alpine Express, my brother was unhappy because we had wasted time riding it. He cheered up after a little while when I apologized for wasting his time and hadn't realized that he was so against riding. We then went and looked at the wolf and eagle exhibits. Afterward, we just walked around the park, looked in the gift stores and restaurants, and found a place to watch fireworks from. Following the end of the fireworks, we headed to Alpengeist for night ERT.

 

We were scheduled to have an hour of ERT on Alpengeist and Griffon, but due to crowds ERT started late. Busch Gardens Williamsburg gave us the full hour anyway. During this time, I rode Alpengeist three times, followed by six laps on Griffon. Most people quit sooner, and on my last ride on Griffon my brother and I had a private train.

 

Following ERT we headed out to the bus, then headed off for the hotel. The trip awards were presented, then Robb talked a little bit about Kings Dominion. He then told everyone to get some sleep and turned off the lights. Since I have a hard time sleeping on a moving vehicle, I stayed awake for the hour or so ride to the hotel. I have a feeling I was one of the few. When we arrived at the hotel, we unloaded the bus, got keys, headed to our room, took quick showers, and went straight to bed.

 

Overall, Busch Gardens was a great park. It reminded me of Disneyland in a lot of ways, but it was better. In fact, it is my second favorite park after Dollywood. It is also the only park I've been to other than Six Flags Magic Mountain with three coasters in my top twenty coasters. Although they don't have that many coasters or an extremely large variety, Busch Gardens had better average ride quality. In fact, if the park had a little better selection of attractions overall it would likely be my favorite park. It is certainly a park I think everyone should visit at some point just to see it.

 

Ride Count:

 

Apollo's Chariot-10 (NEW RECORD!)

Europe in the Air-1

Escape from Pompeii-1

Curse of DarKastle-2

Skyride-2

Alpengeist-4

Le Scoot Log Flume-1

Griffon-7

Train-2

Loch Ness Monster-1

Roman Rapids-1

Grover's Alpine Express-1

 

Total-33 rides in 12 hours (2.75 rides per hour)

 

Interestingly, even though Busch Gardens was the most crowded day of the trip I still managed to get more rides than at Carowinds or Dollywood due to the Quick Queue and ERT. This count would not have been possible without the help of TPR and ERT. Also, 10 rides on Apollo's Chariot is a new record for the highest number of times I've been on one ride in a single day (previously it was 8 with Jaguar at Knott's).

 

Time for some pictures. Also, Kings Dominion will hopefully be posted tomorrow so you can check back for that if you're interested in my review and analysis of East Coast Bash (some bad, but mostly good).

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This was the view from where we entered the park. Now, where could we be heading first?

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Of course. Time for an HOUR of ERT.

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I'm not 100% sure, but I'm guessing a majority of trip participants thought either this or I305 was the best ride of the trip. Since they're all still riding, it looks like they're enjoying it.

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Here's an example of the efficiency of Busch...wait.

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That's better. Even during ERT, the park was running three trains with zero stacking.

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During the end of ERT, the trains started to look like this.

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Time for the tour. En route to DarKastle, we passed this. I think it is some type of restaurant/show hybrid, but I'm not exactly sure.

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I think it is kind of funny that Busch Gardens Williamsburg is almost as large as Six Flags Magic Mountain but you can still capture three of their four major coasters in one shot...from within the park!

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Unfortunately, I never got a chance to do this. Oh well...maybe next time.

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I am not annoyed that Big Bad Wolf was removed for a new coaster. I am, however, annoyed that it was removed for a new coaster the year before I visited the park...and from what I heard about the ride it was easily the best Arrow suspended ever built (excluding Eagle's Fortress).

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As can be seen from this clock, it is still before park opening.

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This is likely as close to an authentic German beer tent as I will ever get. Maybe I should have spent more than five minutes inside.

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Time to tour DarKastle. This ride vehicle looks like a cross between the ones used on the Simpsons Ride and Indiana Jones Adventure, but mounted on a turntable.

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Standard dark ride layout...non-standard dark ride.

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Seriously, this car seemed just like the one on the Simpsons Ride but with individual lap bars instead of a shared restraint.

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Spare parts for the $300,000 ride vehicles.

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During our tour, they were warming up the screens, as the ride was scheduled to open about ten minutes after our tour ended.

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This is what activates the screens as you ride through. They seem to work really well.

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This piece of floor spins. That is how cars can be directed into the maintenance area.

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I think this is the third time I've been allowed to walk through a dark ride. I personally think every TPR trip or event needs at least one dark ride walk-through unless there are no dark rides at any park on the trip/event.

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With the lights on, this is obviously fake. However, everything looked real when actually riding.

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Here's the projection room. Not much to see other than a few projectors.

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Onward to Alpengeist.

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It's the dreaded paperwork. RUN AWAY!

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Is this a road wheel or a guide wheel? If you know the answer, you know who to e-mail. You won't get anything, however.

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I really like the skis on the train, although I don't know of any skilift that carries skis like that.

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The unique supports on the lift hill add to the theme, which is that the ride is supposed to be a runaway skilift.

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Time for a few off-ride shots. Here are riders about to crash into the lodge.

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Take the Tunnel!

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If I wasn't with a tour, I would have waited for a train here. However, we had to keep moving, so I took this picture real quick, then jogged to catch up with the group.

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Griffon...the closest a coaster can come to being a drop ride.

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If you sit in the front row, this is one of the best "Oh Crap!" moments on any coaster.

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I will be disappointed if project 18 at SFMM is not one of these...or a Eurofighter...or a Maverick-style coaster.

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This ride wasn't originally intended to be floorless. The floorless dive machine was only created because the trains would have been too heavy if they still had a floor.

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We see you Loch Ness Monster. We'll be with you shortly.

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As you can see, there is no track in here. The cars are supported only by the rails on both sides of the maintenance bay.

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This is a Bald Eagle, the national bird of the United States.

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For whatever reason, the Loch Ness Monster maintenance bay is darker than the others.

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Last stop: Escape from Pompeii. This is where people would play tricks on the riders.

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If anybody is misbehaving, these can stop the boat before it plunges over the falls. The person in the control room next door can then come out and yell at the rulebreakers.

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Before riding, I didn't realize the top area was so short.

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This is for all the train enthusiasts out there.

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I didn't ever actually investigate this area further. It looked like it had a couple interesting rides.

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Finally, something I noticed about Busch Gardens Williamsburg that I haven't noticed at other parks. Next to, or nearby, many adult rides...

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There was a kid-friendly ride. I think this probably improves family friendliness significantly.

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Okay, time to finish this. Even though this is the last park day there will be one more update coming tomorrow, however...

 

IntimidaTour: Part 6

 

Day 7: Sunday, August 22nd, 2010-Kings Dominion...East Coast Bash

 

Throughout the entire trip, I kept thinking that Kings Dominion would be the biggest disappointment of the trip. It seemed to be nothing more than a coaster saturated Cedar Fair park with about three good coasters and a handful of decent non-coaster attractions. After visiting the park...well, you've got to read this entire report to find out.

 

My brother and I got up early, had breakfast, boarded the bus, and arrived at Kings Dominion a little after 8:30 A.M. We were told that since it was East Coast Bash there would be about 175 to 200 people joining us. In fact, we'd known this would be the case since East Coast Bash was announced. Since I had previous experience with West Coast Bash, I wasn't worried about crowds. However, my brother had been worried ever since the ERT schedule was announced, as we would only have one coaster at a time with two hundred people. In hindsight, I should have paid more attention to him.

 

Our day began with forty-five minutes of ERT on Dominator. As soon as we entered the park, my brother and I headed over to the ride and found ourselves about three trains back in the line. Unfortunately, the ride wasn't quite ready yet due to some minor technical difficulties. We were told that there were two trains running and we would have plenty of time to ride. After about five to ten minutes, the ride opened and we rode.

 

Dominator-It is no secret that I like B&M coasters, or that floorless coasters are my favorite type of sitdown loopers. Dominator was, in my opinion, one of the finest sitdown looping coasters I have ever been on. In fact, it ended up being my favorite ride at Kings Dominion. Unlike the two California floorless coasters, the ride is not a rapid series of inversions, but instead features some other elements. It is also longer, which is always a plus. I wish I would have gotten more than two rides on it, but oh well. It gets an A.

 

After riding Dominator, I decided I really wanted to do it again. After seeing that the wait was two-thirds of the way down the stairs, my brother wanted to bail out of line. However, I convinced him to stay by reminding him that B&M rides have high capacity and the line was probably only about ten minutes. I timed it, and the line took 24 MINUTES!!! I don't mind a twenty-four minute wait during normal operation, but for ERT I generally consider this unacceptable. It wasn't because of the number of people present, but because dispatches averaged 3 minutes, which is about twice what I've seen the Scream crew do at Six Flags Magic Mountain. After the second ride, we decided to go wait out by the Eiffel Tower until they opened Rebel Yell rather than chance another ride, although the wait could no longer be seen from outside the station.

 

At about 9:40 A.M. we were walked over not to Rebel Yell, but to Grizzly. Looks like Kings Dominion decided to change the schedule on us. Oh well, I was looking forward to both rides (although racing Rebel Yell would definitely have been more fun). As we got to Grizzly it began to drizzle. Once we arrived, we were told that it would be about ten minutes because they had to transfer a train off. My brother and I both said it at about the same time: "One train during ERT? With 250 people? This sucks!"

 

Grizzly-Since there was only one train, we got stuck with riding in a bad seat, so the ride wasn't very good. I was only able to ride once, as the line when I got off (after riding on the second train of the day) was prohibitive. Where I was riding, the ride was rougher than Ghostrider, but had none of its benefits. However, since the ride reportedly had a decent amount of airtime in some other seats and was relatively smooth I'm going to give it a B based on potential alone. My ride on it was worse than any ride I've had on the CGA Grizzly, and if every seat is truly like that I'd give it a rare F.

 

Refusing to wait in a half-hour plus line during ERT to find out that the ride sucked in other seats too, I waited with a group of people for nearly a half-hour until we were walked over to Intimidator 305. Once we got there, we were told that ride wasn't ready yet, either. By the time the first guests from the park entrance showed up we were allowed into the queue. My brother and I got on the second train of the day.

 

Intimidator 305-Intimidator 305 is a really good ride. It features a gigantic drop, a series of quick transitions and steeply banked turns, and a couple smaller hills. However, in all honesty, while Intimidator 305 is a really good ride, I do not feel it is worthy of being one of the world's top 25 coasters. It failed to make it into my top twenty, and it also came in third place at Kings Dominion behind Volcano and Dominator. This is not because of the trim brakes on the first drop, because I would actually like it less if I blacked out on the ride. It is most likely because I found the ride to be very un-reridable. Yes, it is fun, but all the quick transitions give quite a bit of a jerk. I rode once in the morning, and then didn't ride again until night ERT. However, after three rides during night ERT, I decided that I had had enough. Even when I am prepared for those transitions, they still throw me. Thanks to the restraints, there is no headbanging, and I have no complaints about that. However, I could imagine with Intamin's current shoulder harness that some people could have issues, although I doubt many would. If it had older-style harnesses, such as the ones on Volcano, however, I could see the ride giving people head injuries. It is glass smooth, but that doesn't mean you can't get tossed during those transitions. Overall, I will give Intimidator 305 a B. It is not a bad ride by any means, but I would NEVER wait an hour to ride it. Yes, I do prefer Millennium Force, as does my brother, who said Intimidator 305 was the biggest disappointment of the trip and that he would rather wait fifteen minutes for anything else in the Congo (except Anaconda) than for Intimidator 305.

 

Oh, and for the people complaining about the trim brakes, I have only this to say: GET OVER IT!!! They are not that big of a deal. If you don't like them, don't ride. It is that simple. Unless the first drop is the only thing on a ride (example: Oblivion), having trims on it doesn't make it instantly suck. They aren't going anywhere, and the ride is still an above-average coaster with them on by almost anyone's standards. Don't like it, don't ride, and make the line shorter for those who don't mind and want to ride. This is the last time I will ever mention the trim brakes on Intimidator 305 (well, other than a brief mention later in this report).

 

After Intimidator 305, my brother and I headed to Volcano, The Blast Coaster to find out that it wasn't open yet. Gee, what a surprise. This was about the point where I decided that not only was Kings Dominion the worst park of the trip, it was one of the worst major parks I'd been to. So far, nothing had been open on time, lines had been long, the park had changed the schedule at the last minute, and not once had I felt any of the excitement of WCB. After waiting around for fifteen minutes, Volcano finally opened. My brother and I were on the third train of the day (it was running one train, of course).

 

Volcano, The Blast Coaster-This ride was amazing. The launch is totally unexpected, as you don't know exactly when the motors are going to engage. It was also cool riding around over a hundred feet above the ground on an inverted coaster, and the ride was glass smooth. It's largest flaw was definitely the length, and that is the main reason it came in second behind Dominator in my opinion. I really wish Intamin had built more of these, as it truly is an awesome ride. A

 

After Volcano, my brother and I talked with each other and determined that it was unlikely we would be able to do every coaster before lunch, as we had originally planned. I therefore suggested that we do all the rides in the Congo, then go from there. We therefore backtracked a little ways to ride Flight of Fear, then rode the following attractions in the order they are listed.

 

Flight of Fear-First off, this is the best themed ride at any Cedar Fair park save the mine ride and log flume at Knott's. Anyway, the ride was really good. I think my brother liked it better than I did, but I still thought it would be worth nearly an hour wait. The ride is basically a minute of pure craziness in semi-darkness. It was also fun riding it with the lights on, but I liked the lights off version better. I'll give it a B.

 

Back Lot Stunt Coaster-This ride was good, but not great. It is short, but is unique. The ride reminded me of what Revenge of the Mummy would be like if it was outdoors. I'll give it a C, however, as it is just a family ride and, after riding twice, I didn't think it was something I'd want to do again if the wait was more than fifteen minutes. It was also a very slow line in the morning when only one train was running.

 

Anaconda-This was better than I expected. I wasn't expecting it to be very good, but I actually enjoyed Anaconda better than Viper or Loch Ness Monster. It was a little rough, but not too bad, and I thought the uniqueness of the layout was worth the roughness, especially when there was absolutely no wait. I give it a C.

 

Ricochet-This was much better than the Ricochet at Carowinds, and is my current favorite wild mouse. It is exactly the same layout as Technic Coaster at Legoland California, but it seemed like it had less braking, making the ride a little more thrilling. It is still nothing but a wild mouse, however, and therefore cannot earn higher than a C from me.

 

Hurler-This, unfortunately, was worse than the Carowinds version. It was almost identical in nearly all aspects, but it seemed a little rougher. I'll give it a D, because this is something I don't mind riding, but definitely would not want to wait for.

 

Rebel Yell-Unfortunately, only one track of this ride was running so I could only get one credit. Oh well. The ride was pretty good, but I think I preferred the blue side of Thunder Road ever so slightly. The silver side of Thunder Road was significantly worse. It may be just me, but although Thunder Road and Rebel Yell have identical track layouts, Thunder Road seemed to be slightly faster and have slightly more airtime. Nevertheless, I give Rebel Yell a B.

 

Since Shockwave wasn't open yet at this point, we decided to go get a locker by the waterpark for later. By the time we were done, Shockwave was open. We got on the second train of the day.

 

Shockwave-What can I say about Shockwave that is positive...it is unique, and I survived. That is about it. Shockwave is one of the most painful coasters I have been on. First, the restraints flat out suck. Not only are they difficult to get into, but the lap bar appears to be designed to Japanese standards. Since Americans are taller, this means that instead of being at your lap the bar is more at your crotch, which means all riders of the male gender are in for some unpleasantness. Being Togo, the ride is also very, very rough. Although it isn't the absolute worst coaster in the world, Shockwave is horrible. It lost the worst coaster of the trip award to Carolina Cyclone only because it is more unique, but it is a ride I will never ride again...unless it has no wait...and I'm with someone who needs the credit. In that case, I'd ride it again. D only because it didn't end my day prematurely, or at least require me to take a break.

 

Drop Tower-I believe this is the tallest drop ride in the United States. It certainly felt tall when you were at the top. Additionally, due to how far away from the tower the seats are, you feel like you are held up by nothing. The drop on this ride is unreal, as it seems like you are falling forever. I know that it is only about a three second drop, but it feels much longer than that. I give this ride a B because it is a drop tower and is a short ride (duration-wise, not height-wise), but do note that it is the best drop ride I have experienced except for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

 

After Drop Tower, my brother and I did a time-check. To our surprise, it was only 12:30 P.M. Even more surprising, we had only two credits left to get. We decided to head to Avalanche next. Unfortunately, this became the longest wait of the trip since it was shut down for at least a half-hour to add a second train while we were in line. Oh well.

 

Avalanche-This ride type didn't catch on in the United States, but I found it to be a fun ride. The ride was a very unique family coaster, so I only give it a C, but it is definitely worth riding and definitely better than Intamin's version of the bobsled concept.

 

Due to the long wait at Avalanche, we had to head to lunch afterward. Lunch at Kings Dominion wasn't bad. They had both hot dogs and chicken, unlike Carowinds. During lunch, one of the park management people did a Q&A session, but due to the microphone volume and the fact that he rarely repeated questions over the mic, it was difficult to tell what he was responding to at points. I heard some booing at one point, which I assume was a response to a question about Intimidator 305's trims. After the Q&A, it was time for a brand new, never been done before activity...TPR Quest.

 

TPR Quest was very, very fun. Robb selected ten people, and then sent them on twenty quests into the audience to find random crap that he asked them for. Some items were generic, especially at first, but they got progressively more interesting. I know that some people were unhappy that Robb asked for a bra, but I thought that was awesome, and anyone who gave up their bra for that challenge deserves a prize in addition to the participants. I was pulled up twice by competitors (TPR shirt and TPR trip shirt) since I was wearing my IntimidaTour shirt at Kings Dominion. Overall, this game was a lot of fun, and I think it should be mandatory at ALL TPR Bash Events. Knott's had something similar to this at their lunch, but it wasn't nearly as good and consisted of finding very generic items (a hat, a shoe, a keychain, etc.).

 

After the game, we were told to meet at Anaconda in a half hour for the backstage tour. My brother and I decided to ditch this since it was just a half-hour photo walkback of Intimidator 305. Instead, we went to get our final credit and did a couple additional rides.

 

Ghoster Coaster-This was a little bit better than Woodstock Express at Carowinds. Even though it was identical, I somehow avoided bashing my knee on the bar. I'll give the ride a C because, although it is just a family coaster, it is better than Hurler.

 

Eiffel Tower-Just an observation tower. It gets a C because it is open air (windy) and doesn't have the best view in the world.

 

Shenandoah Log Flume-I had heard that this was a really good log flume. It was good, but nothing special, and barely justified the twenty minute wait. It had two decent drops with a boring section in between. Not the worst log flume I've been on, but nothing special. C

 

Blue Ridge Tollway-I like these "drive the car around the fixed track" rides, and was disappointed that I missed the one at Dollywood. This one was good, but not as good as some others. I'll give it a C because it had no wait and travelled through the forest.

 

After Blue Ridge Tollway, we did a time check and found out that it was close to 4:30 P.M. We had planned on going to the waterpark at 5:00 P.M., but since the Whitewater Canyon had a massive wait and we didn't have anything else we wanted to do, we decided to go over there early. After getting changed, we went on Freestylin'.

 

Freestylin'-This is a standard single-tube open flume slide. There are two flumes but only one was open, so we only rode once. Good ride, but nothing special.

 

After Freestylin', we went back to the lockers to meet up with the rest of the TPR group. After about ten minutes, we decided to ditch them as nobody had shown up. As we were headed back to the gate, I noticed that everyone was coming down the tower for Tornado, but that they had left their tubes up there. About ten seconds later, I heard thunder. My brother and I immediately turned around and hid under an umbrella. We were joined by a couple other TPR members, who had just shown up. A couple minutes later, it began pouring rain. I watched as the waterpark emptied, thunder crackled, all the rides stopped, and people frantically got changed and returned their locker keys.

 

After fifteen minutes or so, the rain stopped. About ten minutes after that, they began letting people back into the waterpark. My brother and I headed back to Pipeline Peak to wait for it to reopen. We decided to attempt to get on everything in the waterpark before it closed, if possible. At about 6 P.M., the waterpark reopened.

 

Pipeline Peak-Pipeline Peak is split into two levels. We did the upper level first, consisting of Night Slider and Power Plunge. They are both dark body slides. One is a straight drop and the other has several spirals that pull an insane amount of G-force. I liked the straight drop better. We then moved to the lower level, consisting of Rip Slide and Turbo Twister, two dark double tube slides with several waterfalls on the way down. I think I liked the blue slide better (forget which is which), but they were both nearly identical. Either way, I liked Freestylin' better than anything on this tower because I am generally not a huge body-slide fan and I prefer single tubes to double tubes.

 

Zoom Flume-This is the park's family raft ride. It was short, but up to this point it was my favorite ride at Waterworks.

 

Baja Bends-A set of four body slides. I rode four times to try each of the four flumes, and I liked flume three best. This was my least favorite attraction in the park, but as far as old-school body slides go it was pretty good.

 

Shoot the Curl-Three enclosed body slides. Rode twice and I liked the middle slide with a straight drop better, however the body slides on Pipeline Peak were better than these.

 

Tornado-Funnel slides are my favorite type of water slide. This is no exception. Although not the best funnel ride I've been on, this ride wasn't bad, and was still the best slide in the waterpark.

 

By the time we finished Tornado, it was 6:55 P.M. We got changed, returned the locker key, and got dinner. We then rode Back Lot Stunt Coaster again, then went to Volcano, The Blast Coaster for night ERT.

 

During night ERT, I rode Volcano twice, Flight of Fear twice, and Intimidator 305 three times. They were all fun. Once ERT ended, we were given a short speech by the park manager (forget his name), then escorted out to the parking lot. We got back on the bus, rode back across the street to the hotel, got off, then gathered in the lobby for the last night of the trip. At about ten-thirty my brother and I headed up to our room, and after getting showered we went to bed.

 

Overall, Kings Dominion was much better than I originally expected it to be. It was a good park, and actually ended up being better than Carowinds. Other than the morning portion of the day, the rest of the day was great. Kings Dominion comes in as my second favorite Cedar Fair park behind California's Great America. Compared to other Cedar Fair parks I've been to, it is second in ride selection (behind California's Great America), first in coaster quality, second in coaster variety (behind Carowinds), and second in terms of food (behind Knott's, only due to their fried chicken). It was a great way to finish off the trip, and is definitely a park I would like to return to in a few years.

 

Ride Count:

 

Dominator-2

Grizzly-1

Intimidator 305-4

Volcano, The Blast Coaster-3

Flight of Fear-3

Back Lot Stunt Coaster-2

Anaconda-1

Ricochet-1

Hurler-1

Rebel Yell-1

Shockwave-1

Drop Tower-1

Avalance-1

Ghoster Coaster-1

Eiffel Tower-1

Shenandoah Log Flume-1

Blue Ridge Tollway-1

Freestylin'-1 (right flume only)

Pipeline Peak-4 (2 on body slides, 2 on tube slides, once on each slide)

Zoom Flume-1

Baja Bends-4 (once on each flume)

Shoot the Curl-2 (once each on flumes one and two)

Tornado-1

 

Total-39 rides in 11 hours (3.55 rides per hour)

 

Oh, by the way, here is how I would order the coasters at Kings Dominion:

 

1. Dominator

2. Volcano, The Blast Coaster

3. Intimidator 305

4. Flight of Fear

5. Grizzly (based on potential)

6. Rebel Yell

7. Back Lot Stunt Coaster

8. Ricochet

9. Anaconda

10. Avalanche

11. Ghoster Coaster

12. Hurler

13. Shockwave

 

Now, my general comments about East Coast Bash. It was quite different from West Coast Bash, but was still fun in its own way. While the event was mostly good, I think there are a few things that really stood out to me, and a couple that could have been improved.

 

First, the good:

 

1. TPR Quest was EPIC! This was a very fun way to have the final group meal of the trip, and made up for there being no official farewell dinner (I believe every other trip has had one and our trip was going to, but due to ECB it was cancelled. I may be incorrect, however, so feel free to correct me). It really should be at every TPR bash from now on.

 

2. Night ERT was awesome. Volcano and Intimidator 305 are great rides, and so is Flight of Fear. I liked being able to ride FOF with the lights on, but what I didn't think would happen did...the operators were giving each train a choice of lights on or off. I ended up riding once with each, and on my dark ride the lights actually came on right as I was going through the corkscrew. That's probably the only time I'll ever be on a roller coaster upside down in a dark room when all the lights turn on.

 

3. Even though there were 250 people, with only the exception noted below there were minimal lines during ERT, which is how it should be.

 

Now, the bad. Both of these complaints are minor:

 

1. ERT on one coaster...running one train...with 250 people in line. I know that this isn't the event organizer's fault, but it was still the low point of morning ERT. In fact, both coasters in the morning had significant waits. I don't mind waiting twenty minutes during ERT, but when the ride appears to have a five minute wait every time I walk by it later in the day it is annoying. Granted, I didn't time the wait later in the day and I would still take ERT with long lines over no ERT, but it is just a little disappointing.

 

2. Q&A setup. I like Q&A sessions, but when it is difficult to hear the responses and almost impossible to hear the questions, it kind of defeats the purpose. It would have been better if there was a second mic so that people asking questions could use one too. Of course, I did arrive a little late and was stuck in the back, so it is partially my fault.

 

Again, ECB was a lot of fun, and I would not be opposed to doing another event on next year's trip. In fact, I believe ECB will be at Six Flags Great Adventure next year, as that is the day both trips will meet up, although I don't know for sure. However, at next year's event, I really, really hope we don't have ERT on one coaster at a time. It works fine with up to about a hundred people, but when you get more than that it starts to become too crowded.

 

Unfortunately, I was so busy running around trying to do everything at Kings Dominion that I didn't have time to take any pictures. Oh well, at least I've got memories.

Edited by rcdude
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Now, my general comments about East Coast Bash. It was quite different from West Coast Bash, but was still fun in its own way. While the event was mostly good, I think there are a few things that really stood out to me, and a couple that could have been improved.

 

Now, the bad. Both of these complaints are minor:

 

1. ERT on one coaster...running one train...with 250 people in line. I know that this isn't the event organizer's fault, but it was still the low point of morning ERT. In fact, both coasters in the morning had significant waits. I don't mind waiting twenty minutes during ERT, but when the ride appears to have a five minute wait every time I walk by it later in the day it is annoying. Granted, I didn't time the wait later in the day and I would still take ERT with long lines over no ERT, but it is just a little disappointing.

 

2. Q&A setup. I like Q&A sessions, but when it is difficult to hear the responses and almost impossible to hear the questions, it kind of defeats the purpose. It would have been better if there was a second mic so that people asking questions could use one too. Of course, I did arrive a little late and was stuck in the back, so it is partially my fault.

 

I have to disagree with Number 1. After my initial wait and most people were done, there was almost no line for rerides on ERT since most people just wanted the one ride.

 

For Number 2, I was way over by the smoking section and still heard everything that was going on. No, I couldn't hear the questions but I could here managements responses way outside of the picnic area.

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